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Election / Candidate floats idea of community-owned solar panel plants

A SHETLAND South candidate at the forthcoming council election has floated proposals for a number of locally owned projects to help the area to catch up with other areas where local people are already reaping the benefits of community ownership.

Stewart Douglas.

Stewart Douglas said one idea that had caught his imagination is to install floating solar panel plants on local lochs and in sheltered inshore areas.

Another idea is to create car parking and a ‘Clickimin-style’ footpath around the Loch of Brindister, off the A970 between Quarff and Gulberwick.

He said he is committed to driving these projects forward if elected as one of the ward’s four councillors on 5 May.

The floating solar park consists of four circular rafts, each with a diameter of about 70 metres, with solar panels. Each raft has a plastic ring and a thin membrane and look much like the salmon cages we are all used to seeing.

“Obviously the first step would be to ascertain if such a scheme would be feasible having considered legal, financial, environmental, technical, and planning matters,” Douglas said.

Floating solar panel plants are seen as a growing market, at least in the south of Europe.

He added: “Shetland South is currently being left behind. We just need to look at community councils like Scalloway and Northmavine who are attracting funding for community projects, and enjoying many benefits because they are prepared and have well planned, fully costed ‘shovel ready’ projects which are ready to go when funders invite grant applications.

In addition to the above projects, Shetland South communities could benefit from many other projects, the candidate continued saying, including glamping pod sites to encourage tourism, pop-up markets for when cruise ship coaches pass through as well activities for children and younger people.

“The first thing we would need to do is establish what projects the local communities want and need and then draw up a range of priority projects which would then be voted on by the local communities,” he said.

Five candidates are vying for the four seats available in the Shetland South ward. They are in alphabetical order: Alex Armitage (Greens), Stewart Douglas, Allison Duncan, Robbie McGregor (SNP) and Bryan Peterson.

Details of all council election candidates can be found here.