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Opponents of Viking Energy urged to join street protest

Anti-Viking Energy protest organisation Sustainable Shetland is encouraging anyone opposed to the huge windfarm to take to the streets of Lerwick for a march later this month.

The group is urging anyone opposed to the 127-turbine, 457MW project to join in a day of action directed at councillors and Scottish energy minister Jim Mather. The rally will be held under the banner “Save Shetland’s environment – Stop Viking Energy”.

Sustainable Shetland vice-chairman Kevin Learmonth said the organisation, which has 767 members, was hoping for a good turnout for next Saturday’s protest.

“It’s really for absolutely anybody with a concern about the Viking Energy windfarm,” he said. “Everyone’s got their own take and their own reasons why they’re opposed – it’s a chance for them to make their voices heard.

“This is a way of sending a message to councillors, but mainly directed at Jim Mather and the SNP government to say folk in Shetland are really unhappy about this, and that a public show of feeling is very important at this stage.

“In a Shetland context, a couple of hundred people is pretty good. A million took to the streets in Egypt, of a population of 83 million, so the equivalent would be 260 folk – anything on top of that is a bonus.”

Viking Energy submitted its application to the Scottish government’s energy consents unit and SIC councillors controversially voted 9-4 to recommend its approval in December, going against the advice of the local authority’s own planning department.

Mr Learmonth pointed to 2,300 objections lodged with the energy consents unit, which councillors had “somehow managed to dismiss as if it wasn’t important” while “putting a lot of faith” in the 900 individuals who wrote support letters.

He added: “Most of our members, indeed most of our committee have never been to a protest march in their life, and this is not a step that we take lightly. It’s a serious point, but it should be a fun day out – it’s for all the family. It’s a community event.”

The government’s energy consents unit is considering the application and a verdict is expected before the summer is out. Among the options are calling for a public inquiry, which could take up to two years.

* The march will begin at the Market Cross at 11.30am on Saturday 19th February. Its route will be along Commercial Street, up Harbour Street and along to Lerwick Town Hall – which has been booked out for the day and will host teas, coffee and information stalls.