The publication of Viking Energy’s Windylights2 has for me been the final catalyst.
Perhaps I can be classified as one of ex-councillor John Nicholson’s “silent Shetlanders”, but the silence and peace that I treasure is that of the moorlands with all their wildlife from the mountain hare and wolf spider to the sacred raingoose and who has never in the past 40 years been compelled to put pen to paper on any other local issue.
The recent spin and comments made by representatives of Viking Energy are controversial to say the least. I had hoped that the revised plans would show a substantial reduction in the windfarm’s footprint. Alas this is not so and should be challenged by those among us who value our Shetland heritage and the environment in which we live.
From a recent published letter we have: “…because we have worked to accommodate the advice of the environmental agencies, Viking Energy is hopeful that the assessment will show an acceptable impact.’’
Acceptable impact? Acceptable to whom or to what species? I think we can all agree that if they had a choice we know what the raingoose and merlin would say. Information from the RSPB web site states that Shetland is the UK stronghold for red throated diver (Shetland raingoose). They are also placed on the amber list and with red being highest, amber is the next most critical group.
There is also the possibility of an early and brutal death for many migrant and established birds. Studies regarding flight paths and risk assessment has a serious flaw in that man often forgets to tell some of the birds where not to fly.
From the front page of the Shetland Times (18 April 2008), we have: ‘‘…we were trying to design the wind farm in the right place to begin with, and that helps us avoid places that are environmentally sensitive.’’
Are the so called experts trying to tell us that areas such as the pristine wild brown trout lochs with their accompanying red throated diver found below the hill of Scallafield are not environmentally sensitive? From the latest plan it can be seen that the whole area will be surrounded by enormous, dangerous, noisy turbines.
The indigenous wild brown trout populations in the area of Scallafield at the time of writing are undergoing sampling and genetic analysis. At this time two lochs have been sampled, Lunklet and Lamba Water. To place such pristine environmentally sensitive areas at risk from industrial pollution and acidic runoff is an ecological crime and we may lose irreplaceable and unique wild brown trout genetic variants and a consequent loss of biodiversity.
The wild brown trout in this area have in all probability been isolated and surviving here for at least the past 14,000 years. What a disgraceful and unfair legacy to leave our children to be able to stand up and say that we were responsible after 14,000 years for their destruction. And we are all responsible if we do not act now and prevent this proposed windfarm from total domination.
If Viking Energy and all the employed experts are true to their word and really want to protect sensitive areas they should remove all turbines that endanger Shetland lochs. Some may hold genetically unique populations of wild brown trout. More work and genetic study of these wild populations needs to be carried out to determine their status.
I am not against the principle of wind power, but I certainly object to large companies and a few landowners or individuals who may profit at the expense of the environment from ill conceived and environmentally destructive windfarms.
Smaller footprint and more environmentally friendly schemes should be looked at in a Shetland context. Do we really want to live in an offshore, dangerous, noisy power plant supplying subsidised so called green energy to ever more hungry cities?
24 April 2008
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