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Mythical pot at end of rainbow

Ever since the Viking Energy project was first mooted it has been my considered opinion that it had the potential to be a financial disaster for the people of Shetland.

As time passes all I see is loss of income and the likelihood of crippling debt.

Leaving aside all other considerations, the destruction of a unique landscape, the impact on all the folk unfortunate to live in proximity to a massive wind turbine, the loss of value in their homes, health considerations and the impact on wildlife, just consider the picture of a pot of gold waiting to be picked up virtually without any Shetlander lifting a finger to gain enormous wealth without effort.

This is the picture as presented by the supporters of the scheme. It is more likely that the pot of gold will turn out to be just that, a mythical pot at the end of a rainbow.

Consider the facts. To date the Shetland Charitable Trust has spent, I cannot say invested, around £12 million of the people of Shetland’s money into Viking Energy.

It is still possible to achieve an income from stock market shares of four per cent net of tax. With £12 million at four per cent = £480,000 a year, therefore Shetland has already lost, say in five years, almost £2.5 million.

And how long is it going to be before Viking Energy produces a profit if the windfarm is ever built? And that is a very big “if”.

Has it escaped the notice of the charitable trust that quietly all over the world more and more electricity is being produced from turbines mounted on the seabed using the utterly dependable source of tidal power?

I suggest that the future sources of renewable energy, guaranteed and totally reliable as long as there are tides, will represent the future, not wind power which is becoming more and more discredited on grounds of cost and dependancy.

Dreams can be attractive and the wish for a pot of gold to solve all problems has been around for a long time. But remember that some dreams turn into horrendous nightmares.

I suggest that the charitable trust offers its stake in Viking Energy for sale on the open market and find out how attractive their investment actually is to worldwide professionals, not local amateurs, however well their intentions.

Allan Pring
(formerly Dunrossness)