Opponents of the Viking Energy wind farm in Shetland hope for a huge turnout when they take to the streets of Lerwick later this month.
The march and rally under the motto ‘Save Shetland’s environment – Stop Viking Energy’ has been organised by Sustainable Shetland, the group opposing the planned development.
Viking Energy, a company in which Shetland Charitable Trust holds a 45 per cent stake, plans to build a 457 megawatt wind farm on the central mainland of the isles.
The plan to erect 127 huge wind turbines on blanket bog has sparked a huge controversy and polarised the community.
A planning decision from Scottish energy minister Jim Mather under section 36 of the Electricity Act is expected soon after councillors in Shetland voted in favour of the development, in December last year.
Organiser Kevin Learmonth said the rally had two objectives: firstly to remind councillors sitting as trustees on SCT to listen to the population; and secondly to get the message across to the energy minister that a majority of islanders were against the Viking Energy wind farm.
“Despite what councillors have told Mr Mather there is still huge opposition against this development in Shetland.
“We also cannot have confidence that our MSP Tavish Scott has given him the whole story and has represented the majority view,” he said.
He added that the government’s energy consents unit had received 2,300 objections to the development and 900 letters of support.
“We believe the overwhelming majority of people in Shetland oppose this scheme. Supporters are very much in a minority. Initial figures from the planning authority, the Scottish government energy consents unit, demonstrate this,” Mr Learmonth said.
He added that he hoped for hundreds of Shetlanders to turn out as this would send out a strong message to the authorities.
“A couple of hundred people in the streets of Lerwick would be the equivalent to a million in the streets of Cairo. The government has to take note,” he said.
The protest march on Saturday 19 February commences at 11.30am from Lerwick’s Market Cross and goes through Commercial Street and Harbour Street to the town hall, which will be open for teas and coffees, information stalls and debate.
More info at: www.sustainableshetland.org