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Letters / Prejudiced and out of touch

“Big renewables decisions lie ahead, councillors told”, read the headline in a recent Shetland Timesarticle.

The development report being presented to councillors was an update and promotion of the proposed Orion project, which will use renewable electricity to power offshore oil and gas platforms, and produce industrial quantities of hydrogen.

[Shetland News also reported from the meeting: https://www.shetnews.co.uk/2020/11/18/energy-hub-plans-completely-aligned-with-government-ambitions-sic-advisor-says/]

This is yet another huge development with further massive impacts, but with no consultation with the wider community.

What are the implications and effects going to be for Shetland for a project of this magnitude and how will the community benefit from the inevitable huge sacrifices that will result? These and other relevant questions need to be answered before any decisions are made.

I fear however, that it’s too late for consultation, as decisions have already been taken, on our so-called behalf, and if the bids which have already been submitted to the Scottish Government are successful, it will be full steam ahead.

The report anticipates a need for “expert advisers”. I sincerely hope that these advisers are truly independent and that there is no risk that this project is being railroaded through because of personal self-interest.

It also acknowledges that the SIC “will likely bear the brunt of the costs”. If the oil and gas industries want improve their image by jumping on the green bandwagon to deliver so called clean, sustainable energy, why should the Shetland community have to pay for it?

Councillor Lyall questioned the potential “risk” stated in the report, and was told that the risk was that “communities and the press may take issue with the project due to lack of understanding or misinformation”.

This jaw dropping comment speaks volumes and shows how prejudiced and out of touch some senior officials and councillors are with the people they are supposed to represent.

In the same ST issue, there were headlines heralding “hugely important opportunities” and “has the potential to transform our islands”.

Our unique and much-loved islands do not seem to account for much, in the headlong drive for growth at any cost, even if it means destroying the fabric of our islands in the process.

We have so much to be thankful for; a thriving tourist industry, an expanding craft industry, prolific fishing grounds which we have recently regained possession of, and much more.

Is it not time that we appreciated and enjoyed what we already have, and embrace a truly green culture which is suited to the size of our islands and benefits us all in an honest and transparent manner?

Alison Johnston
Sandwick