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Supreme Court gives giant wind farm on Shetland the green light  

Credit:  David Ross, Highland Correspondent | The Herald | 9 February 2015 | www.heraldscotland.com ~~

A giant wind farm on Shetland, which has divided island opinion for years, has been given the go ahead by the UK Supreme Court, after a series of legal setbacks.

Judges said that planning consent for Viking Energy’s plans for the 103-turbine development on the Shetland mainland, should stand.

The 370MW wind farm is projected to power more than 175,000 homes, if a new subsea cable is installed to take all the the green energy to the mainland. Shetland only has a population of about 22,000.

In September 2013 the Court of Session had ruled the planning permission granted by Scottish ministers was incompetent.

The Sustainable Shetland campaign group had sought judicial review of the decision. The original plan for 150 turbines was initially reduced to 127 after consultations and then the Scottish Government reduced the number further to 103 to resolve an issue regarding Scatsta airport.

But the 850-strong Sustainable Shetland campaign group argued that ministers could not reasonably have established the scientific facts over the protection of the endangered whimbrel bird without a public inquiry.

Lady Clark was persuaded and set aside planning consent as a result.

The Scottish Government went back to the Court of Session in July last year and won, so Sustainable Shetland appealed to the Supreme Court.

But now the Supreme Court has found that ministers did have due regard to improving the conservation status of the whimberel and the limited impact of the development.

Viking Energy chairman Alan Bryce said: “We are delighted the Supreme Court has endorsed the planning consent for Viking wind farm, granted in April 2012. We can now concentrate on developing what would be one of the world’s most productive wind farms, to generate renewable energy and significant income for the Shetland community. I would like to thank all who have supported us in reaching this positive outcome. Viking Energy looks forward to making progress during 2015.”

But Frank Hay, Chair of Sustainable Shetland said:

We are naturally very disappointed to hear that our appeal to the Supreme Court has been unsuccessful, and are keenly aware that it will be distressing for our many members and supporters who enabled us to challenge the Scottish Ministers’ planning consent for the Viking Windfarm.

“Our opposition to the windfarm – and its dire implications for the Shetland community and environment – remains undiminished. What we do next as far as that is concerned depends to a certain extent on a properly considered reading of the judgement, on what options are available to us outwith legal action, and on the wishes of our members.

“Our main priority for now, however, is to honour our financial commitments which are considerable, and for which we shall continue to fund-raise. Finally, we wish to extend our sincere gratitude to all those who have supported us, and continue to do so, in a campaign which is surely unprecedented in Shetland’s history.”

Source:  David Ross, Highland Correspondent | The Herald | 9 February 2015 | www.heraldscotland.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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