Environmentalists are calling for a public inquiry into plans to erect a giant wind farm on the remote island of Shetland.
Viking Energy won consent from Scottish ministers in 2012 to build 103 turbines, each 145 metres high, but it now wants to increase the height of the structures to 155 metres. The move is said to have caused anxiety among residents who oppose the scheme. There are concerns over its potential impact on tourism and the environment.
“This is a new and very worrying development; said Helen McDade, head of policy at the John Muir Trust.
“The impact of these heights on the geography and topography of mainland Shetland would be massive. We believed that there should have been a public inquiry into the original application and one should be held into this new application – it would at least give local communities an opportunity to have their say on this increase.”
With a potential output of up to 457 megawatts, the Viking wind farm, a partnership between Shetland Islands council and Scottish and Southern Energy, would be one of the largest in the UK.
In 2015, the Supreme Court in London rejected an appeal against the scheme by community-based campaigners Sustainable Shetland, after a three-year-long legal battle.
The Ministry of Defence has also strongly objected to plans to increase the size of the turbines, arguing it will cause an “unacceptable interference” to the new air defence radar at Saxa Vord in Unst.
“The original consented Viking wind farm already has the potential to have a major negative impact on the area in which the project is planned,” said Frank Hay, from Sustainable Shetland.
A spokesman for Viking Energy said: “We applied in November to make a minor alteration to the project in order to be able to install the latest, most efficient, wind turbines on the market.”
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