Plans for the Mossy Hill wind farm on the outskirts of Lerwick were noted by the town’s community council on Monday night, with no firm motion either for or against the development.
Manchester based Peel Energy wants to build 12 turbines with a maximum tip height of 145m on the outskirts of the town after scaling their plans down from 21.
Although the turbines would not sit within its ward boundaries, the company’s planning application was raised at Lerwick Community Council’s latest meeting on Monday night and it noted the plans with some discussion.
The 12 turbines – which would have a combined maximum output of up to 50MW – would be located on land near to the north exit of Lerwick, and in the Mossy Hill area between the Brig o’ Fitch and the Black Gaet.
The discussion came after local environmental group Sustainable Shetland issued an objection to the plans, saying that Mossy Hill – along with the nearby Burradale development and the planned Viking Energy farm – would have an “unacceptable” cumulative effect on the isles’ landscape.
The group claimed that the main reason for the Mossy Hill application was the possibility of subsidy for remote island wind farms, saying the “so-called green credentials for this project are highly questionable”.
The current plans have also been objected to by the Ministry of Defence, which says the development could cause “unacceptable interference” to its radar at Saxa Vord, and Shetland Clay Target Club, due to the positioning of two of the turbines.
Lerwick North councillor John Fraser told Monday’s meeting that while he was supportive of renewable energy, he felt the community benefit of the Mossy Hill project would not outweigh the “impact on the community”, citing the aesthetic effect of the large turbines.
The project could bring £250,000 a year into the local community benefit fund, but Fraser said that “to the greater Shetland PLC, it’s a drop in the ocean”.
Gary Robinson, however, said that the aesthetics angle could be an “eye of the beholder thing”, stating that he prefers the view of the Luggies Knowe turbine out of his window rather than the one of the Lerwick Power Station.
He also pointed to figures from environmental body SEPA that showed that the power station, as well as Shetland Gas Plant and Sullom Voe Terminal, were among the top 30 carbon dioxide polluters in Scotland in 2016 (SEPA names isles’ top CO2 polluters: SN, 31/08/2018).
There was some disappointment raised that there was not more “local buy-in” through the project, with Peel the sole company behind the plans, while Scottish Youth Parliament member Dylan Morrish spoke up about the need to invest in renewable energy now rather than later.
Arwed Wenger raised a concern about the potential health impact of living within a 2km radius of wind farms, while Peter Coleman pondered if the wind farm could negatively affect the natural expansion of Lerwick.
Speaking after the meeting, Lerwick Community Council chairman Jim Anderson said “ultimately there was no hard motion either for or against the development”, and as the “proposals currently stand, none of the turbines are actually in the Lerwick Community Council ward”.
The Gulberwick, Quarff and Cunningsburgh community council, meanwhile, has requested more information on topics such as the benefits to the community and decommissioning plans.
The project, like the 103-turbine Viking Energy development, would need to be linked into a proposed interconnector cable joining Shetland to the Scottish mainland to allow it to export energy.
It was previously confirmed that island wind projects will be able to bid every two years for subsidy from 2019 onwards as part of the UK Government’s contracts for difference auction scheme.
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