June 24, 2008
Letters, Scotland

The contempt of Viking Energy

So as well as scaremongers, purveyors of disinformation, quacks and a few other colourful descriptions, we are now all classed as bogeymen according to Aaron Priest’s letter in Friday’s Shetland Times.

There will eventually come a time when Viking Energy will run out of adjectives to describe the good people of Shetland who have the temerity to raise concerns about the wind farm development. However, by Viking Energy continually dismissing these legitimate solicitudes in this cavalier fashion does not make then any less relevant. Indeed they do and have raised real issues about the whole raison d’être for building the wind farm.

For example about 18 months ago I, as an obvious dedicated scaremonger, raised the point about the detrimental environmental effects of building the wind farm on Shetland’s peat. It has now become apparent that many eminent scientists in the fields of hydrology and peat land ecosystems are also raising deep concerns about using peat bogs to construct wind towers. This issue was even addressed at a recent seminar to the European Parliament in April of this year. Indeed, there is a very strong environmental case that building wind farms on peat lands, in the guise of cutting carbon, negates any benefits from wind energy in the first place.

In early 2007 Viking Energy boasted that the wind farm scheme would save about two million tonnes of carbon dioxide every year. I, posing as a purveyor of disinformation, argued in the Shetland Times in February 2007 that these savings were far too high and should be between 0.7 to 1 million tonnes. Now in there Windylight Two brochure their co2 saving has indeed been revised down to 1 million tonnes. I still think this will be reduced to at least to the 0.7 figure and maybe even 0.5 million tonnes by the time the wind farm starts construction.

During 2007 they said that the carbon payback time for the construction was only going to be six months. Again, this time in the role of a bogeyman, I argued that this figure was far too low and should range from a minimum scenario of two to three years to a high scenario of 16 years for wind farms built on a 1m depth of peat. However in early 2008 Aaron stated that the payback time would now be in the realm of guess what? – Yep two to three years for the average wind farm. In my estimate this is still low but at least up to six times longer than that originally stated by Viking Energy – and it will increase even more. For every extra 1m depth of peat the payback time will double. So in certain areas of Shetland where the peat is a few metres deep, it is quite conceivable that the payback time could extend beyond the lifetime of the wind farm itself.

I could go on but it does seem that the supposed ‘myths’ I have perpetrated in my various accused roles (in the eyes of Viking Energy) have indeed come true. So far from being myths I would call them concerns and there are a great deal more real and legitimate solicitudes about the wind farm. These cover the areas of health, noise, environmental damage, viability, tourism, visual amenity, effects on wildlife and many more which, have been raised by a wide range of people.

These are not the ravings of trouble makers who just ‘don’t like the look of wind farms’, but from people who, quite rightly, have reservations about the mammoth scale of the wind farm being proposed.

In my view Viking Energy have not addressed any of these concerns to the degree of satisfaction that people raising them deserve. If all they can do is just dismiss them out of hand, using an ever-declining pool of adjectives, then it just shows the degree of contempt Viking Energy have for the people of Shetland.

As I have mentioned before, it seems to me that this wind farm will just be imposed upon Shetland despite being opposed by the majority of the informed populace. Once people take time to find out about it they generally realise the folly of it all and come down firmly against the development. No doubt, Viking Energy will say, that these poor people will have fallen prey to ‘unfiltered’ internet anti-wind farm propaganda and will need to be guided back onto the righteous path of paying homage to the glorious white towers.

It seems ironic that Viking Energy has no compunction in freely using the techniques that they accuse their inquisitors of. They say if we don’t support the wind farm (in their view the replacement for Sullom) then all the old folks homes will close, Shetland will return to the 1950s and no doubt the ten plagues of Egypt will descend upon the land. This is of course complete nonsense. I lived and worked on the Isle of Lewis for a few years and, even though they did not have the benefit of a Sullom Voe, I did not see any of the consequences that Viking Energy says will happen in Shetland if the wind farm is not built.

I cannot speak for Sustainable Shetland but at least they have an open-minded approach to powering Shetland and have produced feasible and viable options despite all being volunteers working on a budget of a few hundred pounds raised through donations. This is a far cry from the paid officials of Viking Energy, who all they can come up with, despite having spent at least £1.5 million to date, is this senseless, narrow-minded, ill-conceived, environmentally destructive and trust-busting monstrous juggernaut. Is it no wonder they need to appoint a PR firm, as I have been recently informed, to promote such a lost cause as this?

So as a card-carrying scaremongering, disinformationalist bogeyman (oh and trainee quack) I would like to be permitted the use one of my favourite adjectives by describing the whole wind farm project as being an utterly and completely egregious idea.

Paul Featherstone

The Shetland News

24 June 2008

URL to article:  https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2008/06/24/the-contempt-of-viking-energy/