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Energy / Planning service has no objections to Yell wind farm – if appropriate conditions are imposed

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

SHETLAND Islands Council could be in line to offer no objections to a proposed 18-turbine wind farm in north west Yell – subject to appropriate planning conditions.

Members of the local authority’s planning committee will meet on Monday to determine the council’s position on the Energy Isles application, with officers recommending a ‘no objection’ stance.

Shetland Islands Council is a formal consultee, but as the generating capacity is greater than 50MW the final say rests with the Scottish Government.

The capacity is approximately 126MW and its turbines will have a maximum tip height of 180m. For comparison the height of Viking Energy’s 103 turbines will be 155m.

The Energy Isles project, which is led by Norwegian developer Statkraft and backed by a consortium of largely local companies, has drawn some concern among consultees for its impact on blanket bog, and its location.

The plans have been scaled down over recent years through an engagement process, however, and both SEPA and NatureScot for instance withdrew objections subject to planning conditions.

A report to councillors highlights that planning policy shows “strong support” for both renewable energy and the protection of the environment.

“Any decision on a wind farm development is a balance between potential benefits and anticipated adverse impacts,” the report said.

“Overall, in balancing the factors for and against the proposed development, it is considered that the weight given to the detrimental impacts identified throughout the report of handling on this proposed development are outweighed by the weight given to the benefits of the proposed development to renewable energy generation, climate change and carbon emissions, the local economy and employment.”

The report said the impact on peatland can be adequately mitigated through a proposed off-site peatland restoration scheme alongside a habitat management plan.

Planning officers also said the visual impact is not outweighed by the economic benefits of the wind farm and its contribution to renewable targets.

Perhaps highlighting the complexities of wind farm development the planning service’s full report on the application amounts to 132 pages.

As well as being recommended to offer no objections, councillors will be asked to delegate authority to planning staff to act on the behalf of the SIC in any discussions with the Scottish Government and the applicant regarding conditions for consent.

At Monday’s meeting committee members will also be recommended to approve plans for a power grid supply point at Gremista in Lerwick.

This piece of infrastructure will connect the local power set-up to the new transmission network in the isles when Shetland is linked to the national grid.

Shetland will connect to the grid via a 600MW interconnector cable once the Viking Energy wind farm goes live in 2024.