There could be a shortage of planning officials when it comes to making a decision about the proposed windfarm, SIC’s planning board heard this week.
Head of planning Ian McDiarmid said the biggest and most controversial planning application of recent years would have an impact on the department’s resources. There was a national shortage of planners, he said, and recruitment, especially to Shetland, was a problem.
He said the developers, Viking Energy, would have to pay the Scottish government £50,000 of which two-thirds would be paid to the local authority for “expenses.” Mr McDiarmid said the planning process would take at least a year, with increase in telephone calls, correspondence and meetings with stakeholders all adding to the workload.
Councillor Laura Baisley said that she could not see how the planning department could deal with it, as well as the normal workload, and they should prepare for the “onslaught.”
Mr McDiarmid said that the department had already retained the services of a consultant who was experienced in Environmental Impact Assessments.
Councillor Caroline Miller said that there would be conflicts of interests as councillors were on the planning board and charitable trust and the council owned much of the land earmarked for the windfarm.
She recommended an update of the planning situation at each meeting of the board. This was seconded by Gary Robinson.
Chairman of the meeting Frank Robertson said that anyone could make representation to the planning board and the final decision would be made by Scottish ministers.
28 September 2007
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