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Energy / Viking Energy developer keen to make temporary working hours arrangement permanent

SSE also intends to submit a planning application for a switching station in Yell next year

Construction of the large wind farm started in summer of 2020. Photo: Shetland News

THE DEVELOPER of the Viking Energy wind farm is looking to make temporary extended working hours for noisy construction – which include some time on Sundays – permanent.

Earlier this year SSE successfully applied to Shetland Islands Council’s planning service to extend the agreed hours for work with potential to create a “nuisance” on the main wind farm development to include 7am to 4pm on Sundays.

This type of work on the new Sandwater road and construction compound is also able to take place between 8am and 2pm on Sundays.

Prior to the agreement Sundays were off limits.

The temporary change – which includes 7am to 6.30pm/7pm Monday to Friday – was put in place for four months and the agreement is due to expire later this month.

The change prompted frustration from Tingwall, Whiteness and Weisdale Community Council, with chairman Andrew Archer saying people in the community had put up with enough as it is.

SSE has now written to the council’s planning service to request that the changes are made permanent.

The team behind the 103-turbine wind farm said the change in shift patterns has resulted in one day of work less per fortnight.

It added that the new pattern has “proven to be of significant benefit to the wellbeing of staff both on and off island, the current arrangements reducing fatigue, travel time and is providing an improved work life balance”.

Under the new shift pattern there is an 11 on, three off rotation, with a large proportion of the staff travelling to Shetland from the mainland fortnightly on a Monday and departing the isles on the Thursday the following week.

The initial application followed government guidance on the recovery from Covid-19 which suggested that a relaxed approach to planning controls, such as working hours on site, is one way to maintain economic activity and keep people in jobs.

Responding to the request to make the temporary arrangements permanent, council planning team leader John Holden said the developer would have to make formal applications for the change.

But he did say that “having given the matter careful consideration I am minded that it will be appropriate for you to make applications to change the terms”.

Outwith the permitted hours, development will be limited to activities like maintenance, emergency works, dust suppression, testing of plant or construction work that is not audible from any noise-sensitive property located outwith the site.

SSE says no HGV movements on or off site are taking place on Sundays on the Sandwater developments.

Meanwhile SSE has notified the council of its intention to submit a planning application next year for an electricity switching station in Yell.

It forms part of plans for infrastructure around the isles to facilitate further renewable energy generation.

The station would be located on land at Burgalstou in Burravoe.

Documents lodged with the planning service show there is a public consultation event proposed for the Burravoe Hall on 8 September between 12pm and 7pm.

Further events are scheduled around other transmission infrastructure proposed in Shetland, as well as the Yell plans. Their details are as follows:

Tuesday 7 September – Vidlin Hall, between 12pm and 7pm

Thursday 9 September – Shetland Museum, between 12pm and 7pm

Tuesday 14 September – online between 12pm and 1.30pm, and 5.30pm and 7pm

The plans revolve around connecting the Beaw Field wind farm in Yell and Mossy Hill project outside Lerwick, both consented and owned by Peel Energy, as well as Energy Isles proposed for the northeast corner of Yell, to the local network.