Angry Shetlanders found themselves turned away from a public exhibition showing the impact an interconnector power cable would have on the islands, after the project manager behind the plans was stuck in Aberdeen by bad weather.
Many people turned out in the freezing cold to attend the exhibition set up by Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission Ltd (SHETL) at Whiteness and Weisdale hall yesterday afternoon (Monday).
However when the first cars pulled up at the hall at 3pm they found a notice telling them it had been postponed until 5pm, and when they returned two hours later they found a sign saying the meeting had been cancelled altogether.
SHETL has promised to go ahead with the second exhibition at the NAFC Marine Centre, in Scalloway, today, but islanders have called on yesterday’s session to be re-arranged.
This week’s meetings were set up earlier this month after SHETL announced they had decided to land the 200 mile interconnector cable, which they hope will export electricity from a 554 megawatt wind farm, at Weisdale Voe.
The exhibitions were designed to show the public what the company had in mind, explain the environmental impact and hear people’s concerns about the cable and the huge convertor station they wish to build in the upper Kergord valley.
However SHETL project manager Greg Taylor had to cancel after he became stuck at Aberdeen airport due to the snow showers and freezing winds at Sumburgh airport, in Shetland
Local resident James Mackenzie said when he turned up there were a lot of cars at the hall at 3pm, only to find a sign saying the meeting had been postponed until 5pm for “technical reasons”. Two hours later they returned to find out the meeting had been cancelled.
Mr Mackenzie was angry that there had been no public notices put out on the local radio or news websites.
“They could have put some warning out instead of some people making two journeys. Their public relations should have been better than that,” Mr Mackenzie said.
One woman, who did not wish to be named, added that she too would have appreciated a public notice. “It would have saved people a journey in the horrendous weather. It was bitterly cold with quite heavy snow showers. There really is no excuse,” she said.
Whiteness hall secretary Vivienne Tulloch said she had been contacted by Mr Taylor yesterday afternoon to say he was stuck in Aberdeen.
He had told her tomorrow’s meeting would go ahead between 3 and 7.30pm, but he would decide once he arrived whether to reschedule yesterday’s session.
Mr Mackenzie said it was imperative the company reorganise yesterday’s event. “Not everyone can make it Scalloway so they should reschedule it. Surely they have got the resources to do that.”
Mr Taylor finally landed in Shetland just before 7pm last night. He said that right up until the afternoon they had thought they would be able to make it to Whiteness hall, and the company had informed the local radio stations about the delay.
He added that the company would decide today whether there was any need to reschedule yesterday’s meeting.
By Hans J. Marter
25 March 2008
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