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Talks begin on proposal for windfarm at Burravoe in Yell

The south-east corner of Yell is the latest area of Shetland being primed for renewable energy development, with a European company this week confirming its interest in building a windfarm with a dozen or more turbines.

Enertrag UK Ltd held a preliminary meeting with grazing committee shareholders last week and its national commercial manager Neil Lindsay said a potential project was being examined, though he stressed it would be many years before a windfarm near Burravoe could go ahead.

Yell Community Council chairman Dan Thompson, who stays in Burravoe, said the initial talks – during which Enertrag explained its plans for a windfarm of somewhere between a dozen and 18 turbines – had been encouraging.

“Personally I hope that folk will be interested, because it’s a good opportunity,” he said, adding he was a supporter of renewable energy and thought the scheme could bring some much-needed income into the island.

The project would only be viable if Viking Energy’s expensive proposed interconnector cable between Shetland and the UK mainland goes ahead, the same situation faced by the North Yell Development Council with its plans for a five-turbine project on the ridge of a hill between Gutcher and Cullivoe.

Mr Lindsay stressed the south-east Yell development was at a “very, very early” stage. The company hopes to return to the islands for discussions with its community council and to consult the wider public in the near future.

He did not want to be drawn on the precise location, size or potential cost at this stage, but said Enertrag was keen to open dialogue with the community and that any project would encompass sizeable benefit payments for residents in and around Burravoe.

Mr Lindsay said the company was aware of sites of special scientific interest in the area and would be working to ensure the turbines were sited well away from such designated locations.

“We’re looking at the opportunity for a wind energy project at the south end of Yell. We’re just looking at feasibility and have held early discussions with both the crofting community as well as some of the statutory bodies,” he told The Shetland Times.

“We’re not going to dictate what should happen. In that local area there’s a very large part of the community that are crofters as well, so we explained that we’ll make a serious consultation with the community and devise a benefit that is in line with their expectations and requirements.”

The Scottish division of Mr Lindsay’s company has its offices in Dunfermline. It is described as a “wind energy specialist” and is part of an organisation that originated in Germany during the 1990s which now has UK headquarters in Diss, South Norfolk. It works on projects throughout the continent, with particular interests in Eastern European countries including Belarus, Poland and the Ukraine.

North Isles councillor Laura Baisley said she would welcome more details about the potential development and she hoped the project would be investigated further: “I look forward to hearing how it develops,” she said.