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Viking opponents want more time  

Credit:  The Shetland News, www.shetland-news.co.uk 1 October 2010 ~~

Opponents of plans to build a huge wind farm on Shetland’s central mainland are calling for more time to respond to the latest proposal published on Wednesday.

Viking Energy Partnership has scaled down their plan to build a 540 megawatt (MW) wind farm, reducing the number of turbines from 150 to 127 that would produce 457MW.

The company says their plans will ease back the development’s visual impact, limit its threat to local bird life and cut down the carbon payback timescale to less than one year.

The addendum took one year to produce after a large number of objections to their original plans were submitted to the Scottish government’s energy consents unit.

On Thursday anti-Viking campaign group Sustainable Shetland said the vast majority of local people are opposed to the wind farm and they should be given extra time to respond to the latest plan.

The government allows a statutory four week period to comment on the application. That period will begin on 8 October when the plans are advertised for the second time.

Viking Energy have offered to extend that period to six weeks after receiving a request from the local Windfarm Supporters Group, but Sustainable Shetland want a further two weeks to gather their arguments.

The group’s vice chairman Kevin Learmonth said: “When Viking Energy was forced to suspend their initial application in October 2009, they said the addendum would be ready by the New Year.

“That date, and many other promises came and went, which is testament to the complexity and difficulty of this project. Tasks which the developer expects to take a couple of months can end up taking a year.

“You’ve really got to wonder about the accuracy of their other claims and predictions.”

Mr Learmonth said that despite the changes, the Viking project remained “flawed, financially risky and environmentally damaging” and called for people to ensure they submitted their comments to the latest proposals.

“The original planning application generated over 2,026 objections, with just 518 in support. For anybody who didn’t get around to making an objection first time around, this is a good opportunity to make their voice heard. Existing objectors can also add additional comments to their original objection,” he said.

Meanwhile the Windfarm Supporters Group that was formed as a rallying point for islanders backing the Viking project have also called for people to make their views known to the government.

Welcoming the revised plans, the group said they showed that Viking Energy has listened to people’s concerns and addressed them. They expected statutory bodies like Scottish Natural Heritage should be much happier with the proposals.

Group member Bobby Hunter said: “The next few months will decide whether or not the wind farm gets approval and it is vital that all islanders try and find out the facts and express an opinion to the council and the Scottish government, whether they are in favour or not.

“Don’t leave it to other people to make their opinions known – they might be leaving it to you.”

They hopes to organise a series of public meetings over the next two months with expert speakers on issues like peat and carbon payback, birds, road building, the environment and finance.

Source:  The Shetland News, www.shetland-news.co.uk 1 October 2010

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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