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Energy / Industry expresses grave concern over lack of vision in council’s energy strategy paper

A LOCAL industry body is calling on the council to pause the Shetland energy strategy consultation process – claiming it lacks vision, priorities and focus.

In a damning response to the ongoing consultation process – seen by Shetland NewsShetland Net Zero Energy Forum (SNZ) expresses grave concern over the lack of any statement or acknowledgement of the socio-economic opportunities of the energy transition, community prosperity or any ambitions for a more equitable future.

Describing it as “an onerous read” SNZ said it would like to see the 165-page council document to go back to the drawing board, while it offers assistance in coming up with a more ambitious version.

Shetland Net Zero represents 25 local companies, active in the transition to net zero including some of the big local names in energy and engineering. In total they employ well over 1,000 people in the islands.

Shetland Islands Council is currently consulting on the islands’ future energy strategy here.

SNZ said it agrees with the council that the “energy transition offers a huge opportunity to deliver benefits to Shetland’s people, workers, communities and the wider economy”.

However, members of the industry group feel that the document does not go far enough and is not sufficiently specific on how the transition can secure better socio-economic outcomes for local people now and into the future.

And it points out that even twenty years ago when its predecessor organisation Shetland Renewable Energy Forum developed a first strategy it was more ambitious than what the council has published now.

SNZ said many of its members’ concerns had already been raised during a consultation session held earlier this month.

The industry body would like to see more time and expertise being spent on developing an “effective strategy”, and also calls for “visionary leadership and decision making” to realise long-lasting advantages of the energy transition for Shetland.

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The SNZ response says: “It is our opinion, there will be no greater impact on Shetland over the next 30 years than the energy transition.”

It concludes that the “underlying approach [of the SIC] is one of ‘wait and see’, rather than identifying clear priorities or setting a course for additional local control”.

“It is therefore the position of the Shetland Net Zero Energy Forum that the draft Shetland Energy Strategy does not provide the strategic vision or guidance required to fully realise the social, economic and community benefits of the energy transition for Shetland”.

The SNZ response has been circulated to councillors and senior council officals.

The consultation is open until 8 March.

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