Energy / RSPB will keep a close eye on Energy Isles wind farm development

Norwegian company Statkraft plans to develop a 18 turbine wind farm in Yell. This image is a visualisation of what it could look like. Photo: Energy Isles

THE RSPB says it will “continue to try to get the best outcome” for nature in Shetland after the approval for the Energy Isles wind farm in Yell.

RSPB Shetland maintained an objection to the 18-turbine development due to the “significant adverse impacts on nationally important peatlands”.

It withdrew an objection in relation to impacts on birds.

The Energy Isles wind farm was given consent by the Scottish Government earlier this month, with construction set to begin by 2025.

While developer Statkraft says it will help with the push to net zero, the development attracted some objections during the planning process – particularly given that the wind farm would be built on blanket bog peatland.

Writing in an online blog, RSPB’s Shetland manager Helen Moncrieff has offered her reaction to consent being given.

She said the charity will now take time to understand the conditions set down by government – but added that it will continue to press for the best outcome in the peatland restoration.


“This is the first wind farm consented in Shetland after the adoption of the National Planning Framework 4 (NPF4), a national planning policy document which must be considered when determining such developments,” Moncrieff said.

“This includes policies which aim to protect and restore peatlands and enhance biodiversity.

“We will continue to try to get the best outcome for nature and hope that Shetland Islands Council and Scottish Government will ensure that the peatland restoration proposals are fully implemented and if not found to be effective, further compensation is provided.

“I am aware some folk believe we do not do enough to prevent wind farm developments, but I am proud of the work that my colleagues past and present did and continue to do.

“Whilst our objections have not prevented any of the large developments in Shetland, we have been active in trying to secure a better future for Shetland’s important peatland biodiversity.

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“For example, we have been fundamental in bringing a range of organisations together with a keen interest in peatlands to form a Shetland peatland partnership and are currently finalising a comprehensive strategy to benefit peatlands, biodiversity and people.

“RSPB Scotland also manages peatland nature reserves for the benefit of breeding birds and other biodiversity, have ambitious plans for restoration, and we work closely with crofters and farmers across Shetland to help access agri-environment schemes with moorland options.

“We will continue to do our best during these days of multiple pressures on nature and climate.”

Moncrieff said peatlands are important for “so many reasons”, including for wildlife and for gathering and storing carbon.

She said the peatland which will be lost or damaged by the Energy Isles development is of a “really good quality – something that is rare in Scotland because 75 per cent of our peatlands are damaged or degraded, and should be treasured”.


“RSPB Scotland has a great deal of experience of peatland management and restoration in Shetland and elsewhere in the UK,” Moncrieff added.

“Although some peatland restoration is proposed, we do not think that this would compensate for the loss of ‘active’ blanket bog that is in good condition, and which captures and stores carbon in addition to being a nationally important habitat in its own right.”

The RSPB manager added that as a Shetlander, “I have a long and deep connection with the nature we share these islands with, and a great love of the open spaces of the landscape”.

“In recent years, I have struggled with the industrialisation of hill ground under wind farms, and the impacts it has had on our communities who are both for and against the developments for many reasons,” Moncrieff continued.


“In RSPB Scotland, we recognise the need to deliver renewable energy if we are to meet our climate change targets.

“However, development needs to be carefully sited to avoid the most damaging impacts on nature. In Shetland, we formally objected to Viking Energy, Mossy Hill and Beaw Field developments, but each were granted consent.”

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