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Community / Decision on Newing quarry postponed until next year

Newing residents Magnus Bradley, Suzanne Malcolmson and Justin Watson contacted Shetland News in early September to express their anger and frustration. Photo: Hans J Marter/Shetland News

WIND farm developer SSE Renewables has pushed back a decision whether to open up a large borrow pit near houses at Newing, in South Nesting, until early in the new year.

The company’s stakeholder manager Aaron Priest confirmed on Tuesday that nothing would happen on the controversial topic before a meeting with local residents had taken place.

People living in the tiny hamlet of Newing raised the alarm a few months ago after they realised that stones and aggregate for the Viking Energy wind farm would be excavated from a quarry located less than 500 metres from their homes.

They said they fear structural damage to their homes and added that they had been overlooked in the planning process and should have been consulted directly as neighbours rather than through the community council.

The matter was briefly raised at a meeting of the Viking Community Liaison Group on Tuesday.

SSE Renewables has always insisted it had every right to develop the large borrow pit, but the tone in which Priest responded to questions from meeting chairman Andrew Archer suggested the company’s stance on the issue had somewhat mellowed.

Priest told the meeting that stones from a different quarry in the South Nesting area – quarry 05 – was “for the moment” providing sufficient high-quality material for roads and “ongoing concrete works”.

“If the results in the existing borrow pit continue to be as positive as it is at the moment then it is reducing the potential requirement for the new borrow pit at Newing,” Priest said.

“But I think we need to reserve the right to open the new borrow pit in case the existing borrow pit 05 doesn’t meet the grade or has insufficient quantities.”

He said the company and residents were in discussions to find a suitable date for a meeting which would now only be taking place in the new year.

“Pinning down dates is not as straight forward – we are aiming to do something early in the new year, and certainly before any decision or progress happens on the Newing borrow pit,” Priest confirmed.

In an update on progress of construction works, Priest confirmed that 12 of the 103 turbine bases had been poured with concrete, while 59 kilometres of the of 69km track network had been completed.

Currently there were working 200 people on the wind farm construction site, 80 of who were local, he said.