September 12, 2013

Health study too late

Thursday, 12 September 2013 | Written by Hans J Marter | Shetland News |

An independent study into the health impact of Shetland’s planned Viking Energy wind farm has been published too late to influence the 103 turbine development.

Joint wind farm developer Shetland Charitable Trust commissioned the study last summer as a condition before releasing a further £6.3 million towards the massive project.

The 48 page report, carried out independently by NHS Shetland’s director of public health Dr Sarah Taylor, was discussed by the trust for the first time on Thursday.

Trustees also saw a written response to the trust from Viking Energy’s project officer David Thomson, who said the company had carried out extensive consultation and done everything they could to mitigate possible health risks.

“As a project and as an organisation we are satisfied that the risk of negative health effects arising from the Viking Energy wind farm development has been minimised to acceptable levels in all cases,” Thomson wrote.

Trustee Drew Ratter, who chaired the trust when the report was commissioned, told Thursday’s meeting the only decision they could make was whether or not to invest in an “already consented” wind farm.

NHS Shetland chairman Ian Kinniburgh observed that “the horses have already bolted”, but said he still wanted Viking Energy to shed more light on the siting of some of the turbines.

“I would like some reassurances that the developer can demonstrate more clearly how this particular configuration of turbines would not give rise to some of the health problems despite their proximity to dwellings,” he said.

He added that trustees had to make up their mind whether they wanted to be part of the project and invest its forecast returns of around £20 million back into the community, or pull out and have no influence.

He also warned that there were plenty of investors waiting to take the trust’s place. Kinniburgh should be able to question Viking during a private meeting of the trust’s investment committee.

Newly appointed trustee Allison Duncan called for a further independent health assessment to be commissioned.

He failed to find a seconder, but chairman Bobby Hunter said his request would be noted.

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