A massive windfarm proposed for the central mainland of Shetland will increase the islands’ environmental credentials, it was claimed yesterday.
The developers behind the £600 million project yesterday (Friday) rehearsed their arguments with the local media before setting off on a four week consultation exercise that will take them to community halls throughout the isles.
Viking Energy, a council owned enterprise, has joined forces with electricity giant Scottish & Southern Energy, to build a 600MW windfarm that could provide green electricity to 25 per cent of Scotland’s homes.
Projections are that the Shetland community could benefit to the tune of £25 million a year going into a trust for investment into community projects.
The wind farm plans hinge on a government decision whether to invest a further £500 million into a subsea cable that would link Shetland to the UK grid.
This decision is not expected to be taken before 2009, by which time the Viking Energy/SSE consortium hopes to have obtained planning consent from Scottish Ministers.
Yesterday, the Viking team said they were now ready to discuss their plans with the wider community, take on board local reservations and correct misconceptions.
The project team has identified 192 different locations for wind turbines in the parishes of Nesting, Aith, Voe and Delting, but added that many of these were negotiable as they only needed 168 wind turbines to reach their target.
They said that building the wind farm and getting the grid connection to the UK mainland were the keys for Shetland to benefit from the potential that lie dormant in the developing wave and tidal energy sector.
Project manager David Thomson said: “This wind farm will increase Shetland’s green credentials and reinforce the isles’ commitment towards its environment.”
Councillor Bill Manson, a director of the Viking Energy/SSE partnership assured islanders that the project would not get the political go-ahead if a solid majority of islanders turned out to be against it.
Shetland’s share in the investment would be paid for by equity investments coming either from council reserves and/or the Shetland Charitable Trust plus commercial loans through banks. The project team expects that the project can be paid off after seven to 10 years.
The first consultation meeting will take place on Monday in the Voe Hall at 7pm.
By Hans J Marter
10 March 2007
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