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Politics / Wishart encourages governments to ‘seize the moment’ and establish Shetland tariff

Lib Dem MSP Beatrice Wishart.

LOCAL MSP Beatrice Wishart has called on the Scottish and UK Governments to “seize the moment to be innovative” and explore introducing a ‘Shetland tariff’ ahead of the Viking Energy wind farm coming on stream.

She has written to both governments to press for more to be done on fuel poverty.

Wishart has echoed Shetland Islands Council’s view that once the isles become a net exporter of energy in 2024 a system should be in place to offer cheaper local electricity rates.

It is hoped that this could alleviate the problem of people struggling to pay their heating bills in Shetland.

“Tackling fuel poverty is one of my key ambitions as MSP for Shetland,” Wishart said.

“Now is the opportune moment to establish a Shetland tariff before the Viking project is complete.

“I am sure islanders would be very disappointed to have one of the most productive onshore wind farms in the world on their doorstep and gain no benefit as energy passes by en route south.

“The irony of Shetland having been close to the productive North Sea oil fields for the last fifty years, and contributing substantially to its success with one of Europe’s largest oil and gas terminals located here at Sullom Voe, is not lost on those who struggle to heat their homes.”

Shetland Islands Council chief executive Maggie Sandison previously said the local authority was seeking to find a way to allow the isles to buy electricity at a wholesale ‘Shetland tariff’ that would in turn lead to significantly cheaper energy prices locally.

Latest statistics show 31 per cent of Shetland households are in fuel poverty, with 22 per cent living in extreme fuel poverty.

A household is judged to be fuel poor if more than 10 per cent (20 per cent for extreme fuel poverty) of their net income is required to pay for their reasonable fuel needs after housing costs have been deducted.

With the 103-turbine Viking Energy wind farm expected to provide enough power for the needs of 475,000 homes a year, as it stands most electricity will be sent south into the national grid via the planned subsea cable connecting Shetland to the Scottish mainland.

When complete in 2024, it will be the UK’s largest onshore wind farm in terms of annual electricity output.

Once the wind farm is operational Lerwick Power Station will move to standby operations only.