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Health / MRI appeal in line to receive £200,000 from wind farm benefit fund

The donation would mean the appeal would nearly reach its £1.65m target

A DECISION has been made in principle for the fund which will receive community benefit money from Viking Energy to donate £200,000 to the Shetland MRI scanner appeal.

Shetland Community Benefit Fund Ltd chair Chris Bunyan said that the appeal is of “vital importance to the health of hundreds of people in Shetland”.

The donation would mean that the MRI appeal’s target of £1.65 million is nearly reached.

Its website says £866,883 has been raised to date, but this does not include a recently announced £500,000 grant from Shetland Charitable Trust.

The community benefit payments of £400,000 a year during the construction of the Viking Energy wind farm are fully committed to an advanced grant scheme for community councils.

The community benefit fund has therefore asked Viking Energy and SSE for an advance payment from the main core fund, which is valued at around £2.2 million a year and is not due to start until construction is finished.

Viking Energy and SSE have agreed to this request.

In a letter to all community councillors, Bunyan added: “SCBF directors met recently and agreed the MRI appeal was a clearly suitable use of funds, and the MRI appeal committee has submitted an application for the donation.

“These are early days for the SCBF and managing the funds and we are still developing the practicalities of disbursing the advance grant scheme – so there are no rule or procedures yet for the disbursement of the core funds in four years’ time, making this donation unusual.

“SCBF directors are clear that this donation is an exceptional one-off decision, because of the importance of the appeal, and sets no precedent about the main core funds.”

Bunyan said the fund company was keen to hear any comments about the donation from community councils.

Shetland Community Benefit Fund is an independent co-operative set up in 2011 while the Viking Energy project was being proposed.

Its website says it “exists to negotiate the best possible agreement for Shetland” from commercial wind farm developments in the isles.

Each of Shetland’s 18 community councils can nominate a director to its board.