Revised plans for a major windfarm in have failed to impress a group of crofters objecting to the development.
New proposals by Viking Energy to scale down its network of wind turbines in the Lang Kames (see separate story) have been released by the company this week.
But members of the Aithsting Common Grazing committee, representing west side crofters from Aith, Clousta and Tresta as well as East and West Burrafirth, say the changes do not go far enough.
They have come out strongly against the development of grazing lands for use by the Viking windfarm, claiming the project is being run on such a scale as to render it an industrial project rather than a community one.
They say the development would render the area at such risk from environmental damage that it would be unreasonable to press ahead with it.
Crofters stand to be heavily compensated for the disruption the windfarm’s development would cause to the land.
But they say crofters are only one part of the crofting community, and that other residents in the area will also suffer severe disturbance when the work goes ahead.
Committee spokesman Jim Nicolson said a smaller, community-focused windfarm would be more appropriate.
The feeling in the committee is that we are not against windfarms as such, but in general there would be support for small-scale windfarms for local communities, he said.
The individual size of the turbines and the scale of the windfarm is such that it really is an industrialisation of a considerable area of rural Shetland.
It will make an impact on the environment and on the lives of individuals.
Mr Nicolson rejected claims that the crofting group were attempting to divert the windfarm away from the West Side or practising nimbyism and said the project simply was not right for Shetland as a whole.
I think I would find that offensive because a project of this scale is not something I would want to see anywhere in Shetland, he said.
It does impact very much on the area in which I live, but I would not want to see it happen anywhere because the scale is much too big, and the size of the individual turbines is huge.
He said reading the revised plans by Viking Energy for the scaled-back windfarm had left him disappointed, although he welcomed the reduction in turbines.
The size of them is still very substantial. I still have questions over the scale of them, and how they would look from Aith.
We need to see things such as the environmental audit that needs to be in the public domain, and we need to see that in full.
He played down claims the crofters could be mounting a legal challenge, adding reasoned debate should remain the immediate priority.
Key among the committee’s other concerns is a loss of grazing due to a need for security fencing.
Chairman of Viking Energy, Bill Manson, said: The environmental effects of the windfarm proposal will be judged during the planning process. Should any aspect of the development be found to be unacceptable the project would, ultimately, fail to obtain planning consent.
The grazings committee has also suggested there will be a significant loss of grazing due to safety and security fencing. It is unlikely that there will be any requirement for safety or security fences within the Aithsting common grazings.
Viking Energy has no reason to expect that a planning consented windfarm proposal would be found to be against the wider interests of the crofting community, or the Shetland community.
Current estimates suggest the windfarm project could bring upwards of £25 million per year into the wider Shetland community. In excess of £18 million is projected to come directly into community funds to help finance public services in Shetland.
18 April 2008
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