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Energy / Six in 10 wind farm workers local, developer says

Photo: Steven Christie

MORE than 60 of the 100 people working on the Viking Energy wind farm project at the end of October were local to Shetland, according to its developers.

In a newsletter designed to update people on the progress of the 103-turbine wind farm and associated interconnector cable, the developers said that “many more islanders and local businesses” are involved in providing support services like accommodation and vehicle hire.

The team behind the projects – a collaboration between SSEN Transmission, SSE Renewables and Viking Energy Wind Farm – said that half of the 60-strong workforce for mainland based contractor RJ McLeod were people local to Shetland.

“To date, 15 local contracting businesses, a further 18 local supply companies and numerous local accommodation providers have been directly engaged by RJ McLeod in their delivery of the main construction contract,” the newsletter said.

There have been recent calls for all travelling workforce to be tested for coronavirus, something which is not in place.

During the first few weeks onsite, RJ McLeod also took on four local workers through the Moving On Employment Project, a Shetland charity which helps young people overcome barriers to finding and retaining jobs.

The work carried out so far includes a new access track in Kergord and the start of a new road at Sand Water.

Viking is also said to be committed to sponsoring local apprentices and rolling out STEM skills initiatives in local schools.

The number of jobs could reach a peak of up to 600 between autumn 2021 and the summer of 2023 when work is carried out on both the wind farm and the HVDC cable.

However, when the wind farm is operational there are only expected to be 35 long-term jobs in place.

The newsletter also said that the amount of peat removed from the site of the Kergord access track was around 40 per cent less than anticipated.

A timeline for construction highlights that work on an electricity substation at Upper Kergord is expected to start in August next year, with turbines then being delivered in January 2023.

Turbines will be transported to Lerwick and transported through to the site on specially designed lorries.

“Discussions are continuing with Police Scotland and Shetland Islands Council to minimise inconvenience to other road users,” the newsletter said.