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Energy / Viking developer says it has ‘consent for all works’ at Kergord after planning report raises concern

Work on building the access track for the Kergord converter station pictured last year. Photo: Shetland News

THE DEVELOPER of the Viking Energy wind farm has played down concerns raised in a planning monitoring report over an additional filter drain constructed in Kergord which was not said to be part of original consent.

The issue came to light as part of an audit check carried out on the wind farm construction by planning monitoring officer Diane McGuigan at the end of October.

The monitoring report said developer SSE was required to ensure relevant information is retrospectively provided to the council’s planning department and that appropriate liaison with the council is undertaken in the future.

However, a spokesperson for Viking Energy said existing consent allows for drainage to be customised and that the work was within guidelines.

“VEWF [Viking Energy Wind Farm] has consent for all works at the Kergord access track which were delivered to an exemplary standard of finish by local contractor Tulloch Developments,” they said.

“The consent allows for drainage work to be customised to suit actual ground and drainage conditions encountered during the construction process.

“The works described in the quote from the PMO [planning monitoring officer] report are of a minor variation to the generic drainage design submitted for approval, something which is standard practice in the implementation of temporary and permanent drainage works during project construction.”

The site visit, undertaken by McGuigan from engineering, design and consultancy company Ramboll UK, also highlighted that in addition to silty water entering Sand Water on two occasions, discoloured water also entered the burn of Weisdale in Kergord on 1 October.

Measures were put in place by the construction team following the incident to mitigate further impacts. Environment agency SEPA was notified.

The audit check was undertaken on 28 October by an independent planning monitoring officer at the new Sand Water road which is currently being constructed, as well as the new Kergord access track.

A planning monitoring officer will undertake site-based audits at monthly intervals to check in on the compliance with the many conditions of the consent for 103-turbine the wind farm and its associated works.

SSE Renewables’ environmental adviser and the project’s environmental clerk of works were interviewed as part of the audit.

A traffic light system is used in the report to judge issues with activity on site, with green showing compliance and red suggesting non-compliance.

All activities noted by the monitoring officer were deemed to be ‘green’ apart from the filter drain planning deviance, which was ‘amber’.

It was reported that the drain was constructed to avoid surface water run-off flowing onto a contractor compound.

The monitoring officer highlighted that silt and mud was also observed on the road leading from the access point to the temporary Sandwater Road compound at the top of the hill.

This was expected to be as a result of lorry movements entering and leaving the site.

A wheel wash was not present on site, and neither was a road sweeper.

A condition of the planning consent sets out the requirement for road cleaning to address the presence of mud, silt or debris on the road network.

The environmental adviser stated that road cleaning items were to be delivered to site.

Confirmation was received that these had been received at the site the day after the audit, on 29 October.

Lorries entering and leaving this area were observed to be sheeted to minimise dust generation.

The publication of the report comes after Viking Energy critic councillor Moraig Lyall was appointed to the Shetland Windfarm Environmental Advisory Group.

Shetland Islands Council also agreed to seek amendments to the group’s terms over concerns they “do not go far enough” in ensuring that independent advice on environmental issues is sought and made publicly available.