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Energy / Wind farm construction workers will be tested for Covid, Viking Energy confirms

A recent photo of the Viking wind farm construction site. Photo: Ronnie Robertson

VIKING Energy wind farm construction workers returning to Shetland from the UK mainland following Christmas will be tested for Covid-19, developer SSE Renewables confirmed on Wednesday.

The company said while there was no legal requirement to do so, main contractor RJ McLeod is providing PCR tests for workers returning to Shetland.

Meanwhile, SSE Transmission’s principal contractor BAM Nuttall has strengthened its risk mitigation measures but is not testing workers returning to Shetland to work on the subsea cable project.

Over recent days many islanders have taken to social media to call for stricter rules to reduce the risk of the virus being taken to Shetland by visitors and travelling workers.

While mainland Scotland was put in a near lockdown earlier this week, Shetland continues to ‘enjoy’ the relative freedom of tier three restrictions despite a Covid cluster over the festive period that has infected 84 people so far.

A spokesman for SSE Renewables said one of the company’s priorities was to ensure hat “suitably robust and risk-assessed protection measures” were in place.

“While there is no requirement under latest government guidance to undertake testing, our main project contractor RJ McLeod has ensured that PCR tests are provided to workers returning to Shetland from the Scottish mainland within two weeks of the end of the festive period,” he said.

“This means construction workers on the wind farm will have completed a test prior to the planned restart of construction works due at the end of this week.”

The spokesman added: “We have also taken the opportunity to reduce the number of staff travelling during this post festive period to the absolute minimum.

“These measures are deemed appropriate alongside the existing range of risk-assessed measures already in place including those associated with travel to and from the construction site, welfare provision, social distancing procedures, additional hygiene measures, and use of PPE.”

A spokesman for SSE Transmission said: “Following the subsequent return to lockdown announced on Monday, we have taken the decision to restrict all travel to Shetland to just those essential workers directly involved in the construction works and we have also reviewed all other risk mitigation procedures.

“This includes enhanced social distancing on site, increased wearing of face coverings and even more frequent cleaning of communal areas on site, over and above what is expected through Government guidance.

“We also continue to temperature test all workers each time they arrive on site and are exploring ways of reducing the already limited interaction of workers with the local community to further mitigate the risk of transmission in the community.”

Chairman of Sustainable Shetland, the group opposing the construction of large wind farm projects in Shetland, Frank Hay said a proper testing system for all worker was needed.

“What about the other contractors working for Viking and at Upper Kergord?” he asked.

“It is time that SSE set a proper testing regime in place applicable to all their incoming workers. Most other responsible employers already do this. SSE’s attitude is far from helpful to the local population.”