A planning determination on the controversial Viking Energy wind farm project is still some months away.
The Scottish Government confirmed on Monday that the application under section 36 of the Electricity Act was now with officials at the Energy Consents Unit, but not with energy minister Fergus Ewing as yet.
The news comes as Shetland Charitable Trust meets on Tuesday to decide on a new company structure for the project which would allow the trust, a registered charity, not to pay any taxes on its share of any future wind farm profits.
Following months of discussions between main objector Scottish Natural Heritage and Viking Energy over the impact the project might have on the nationally important whimbrel population, the developer decided at the end of last year to seek a decision on their application.
The energy minister could either grant or refuse permission for the 127 turbine wind farm, or, as a third option, call a public inquiry, a way forward favoured by many local people.
Viking Energy project co-ordinator, councillor Allan Wishart said: “Talks did come to something – but sadly did not get as far as SNH withdrawing their objection.
“However it is fair to say that there is a much greater understanding about the whimbrel and how any potential impact upon them could be mitigated. We will still continue to have close liaison with SNH as appropriate.”
A SNH spokeswoman said some progress over the agency’s ornithological concerns had been made.
“However regrettably we have been unable to reach a stage that would enable us to remove our objection.
“Our advice therefore remains that there is a high likelihood of a significant adverse effect on the national population of whimbrel, and there would be significant adverse landscape and visual impacts from the current proposal,” she said.
A spokesman for the Scottish government said: “The application is currently with government officials. There is no timescale as to when there will be a determination as we are currently assessing all the information.”
On Tuesday, members of Shetland Charitable Trust, who have a 45 per cent stake in the Viking Energy Partnership, are being asked to approve changing the Viking Energy company structure to that of a Limited Liability Partnership (LLP).
Viking Energy Shetland LLP (VES LLP) would replace Viking Energy Limited, while the Viking Energy Partnership, the joint venture between Scottish & Southern Energy and the Viking Energy Limited, would change to Viking Energy LLP (VE LLP).
In his report to trustees, financial controller Jeff Goddard said: “The key advantages of the LLP entity is that it is able to grant a floating to satisfy the needs of the project finance providers, but as a partnership, taxable profits are passed to the partners to deal with.”
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