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Council / Councillors approve new working hours for converter station construction site

A month old photo of the Kergord construction site. Photo: Viking Energy

COUNCILLORS have approved an application by the developers of the converter station at Upper Kergord to vary approved working hours and have, by default, added three more hours to the weekly total.

A proposed condition by planning officers to restrict HGV movement early on Saturday and Sunday mornings was outvoted by councillors during a meeting of the SIC’s planning committee on Monday afternoon.

Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission plc was seeking to amend working hours to have an earlier start to allow personnel to return to their accommodation prior to 8pm for mealtimes at the Sella Ness accommodation camp, and to allow more time for workers to communicate with their families.

The new working hours are 7am to 7pm Monday to Saturday and 8am to 6pm on Sundays – a total of 82 hours per week, three more than previously allowed.

Planning officers recommended that there should be no HGV movements prior to 9am on Saturdays and none prior to 10am on Sundays.

However, the applicant’s representative at the meeting Murray Agnew said that such a “rigid restriction” would add confusion and pointed out that the developer of the neighbouring Viking Energy wind farm was not required to adhere to such a condition.

Tingwall, Whiteness and Weisdale Community Council had objected to the application to vary the working hours saying the community was already affected by the noise level from the site and added that they believed the proposed starting times were too early.

However, councillor Cecil Smith said he felt conditions had to be the same for both developers working on the large wind farm project and moved to approve the new working hours with no conditions attached.

Smith said: “I feel we need to get on with this. I have never been a great supporter of windmills and wind farms (…) but I think we need to move on as fast as we can and get it completed.”

He was seconded by councillor Robbie McGregor.

Member for Shetland Central Davie Sandison said he felt the concerns of the community have not sufficiently been listened to and moved the original recommendation by planning officers. He was supported by Shetland North councillor Andrea Manson.

Sandison said: “I have been at quite a lot of the community council meetings (…) and have heard really well-presented arguments about what would work better for the local residents, and I don’t think too much about this is being recognised (…) so therefore, whenever there is an opportunity to ensure that those voices are being heard I like to make sure that that’s the case.”

When it came to the vote four councillors supported the motion to remove the proposed conditions while just two wanted to see these imposed.