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Energy / Natural heritage organisation withdraws Yell wind farm objection

Norwegian company Statkraft now plans to develop a 18 turbine wind farm in Yell. Photo: Energy Isles

SCOTLAND’s natural heritage agency has now formally withdrawn its objection to a proposed 18-turbine wind farm in Yell.

NatureScot said following discussion with the applicant, and the submission of an amended habitat management plan, it was satisfied provided there are conditions imposed in the event of consent for the Energy Isles wind farm.

The agency previously objected to the plans over the “adverse impacts” on peatland and on the special qualities of the Shetland National Scenic Area.

The proposed wind farm, which would be located south of Gloup, originally began life as a 63-turbine development.

Through the years the project has been refined down to 18 turbines.

NatureScot’s Shetland operations officer Jonathan Swale said in a letter to the Scottish Government’s energy consents unit earlier this month: “Following further discussion with the applicants and submission on 1 February of an amended habitat management plan, I confirm that NatureScot is satisfied with the revised plan and with the proposed wording of the planning condition.

“Therefore, provided these are incorporated into the consent we withdraw our objection to the proposal.”

But campaign group Sustainable Shetland has issued fresh concern over the plans, saying the turbines would be “grossly out of scale to the local landscape” despite the reduction in numbers.

The turbines would be 180m from bottom to blade tip, which is 25m larger than those that will be installed at the Viking Energy wind farm.

Group chairman Frank Hay questioned the carbon payback figure of 1.7 years – as well as the value for money to energy consumers due to grid upgrades required to connect the wind farm.

“The main aim of this proposed wind farm continues to be financial gain, as governments seem all too willing to throw money towards renewables, rather than any genuine ambition to achieve net zero and save the planet,” he wrote to the Scottish Government’s energy consents unit.

“The foolhardiness of supporting an energy source which cannot be relied on to deliver as and when required has been all too apparent in recent months, as energy bills rocket upwards.

“Supporting and giving planning consent to projects like Energy Isles can only contribute more to energy poverty as well as permanently damaging a pristine peatland environment.”

Speaking last year in response to concern from Shetland Amenity Trust on the peatland impact, Energy Isles Limited director Derek Jamieson said: “Renewable energy must be part of the strategic fight against climate change and reduction of carbon emissions.

“That is why our proposals have evolved to ensure that the Energy Isles Wind Farm is the correct size to contribute to renewable energy and why we have submitted a robust peat management plan that will not only minimise the impact on the site itself but regenerate vital carpet bog areas elsewhere as well for a net gain in the amount of quality peatland here in Shetland.”

As the wind farm would be greater than 50MW in output, the application is being determined by the Scottish Government.

It was confirmed this summer that the date which Energy Isles could switch on has been pushed back two years to 2027.

Yell already has one consented wind farm proposed for development – Peel Energy’s 17-turbine project in the south of the island.