Wind farm developer Viking Energy has expressed its regret for allowing silt run offs from its construction site to enter nearby Sand Water, a site of special scientific interest (SSSI) and one of the many lochs regularly checked for its water quality as part of the project.
Shetland Islands Council, speaking as the planning authority, said it had been established that mitigation measures including silt water traps and water pumps proved ineffective in the heavy rain on Tuesday morning.
The council was inundated with calls from concerned people all reporting that water contaminated with silt from the Sand Water road construction site had been allowed to enter the loch.
Both the SIC and Viking Energy said they have had urgent meetings with contractor RJ McLeod and the ecological clerk of works on Wednesday to demand details of improved mitigation measures “to ensure that this can’t happen again”.
The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) has also been informed.
A spokesperson for Viking Energy said this afternoon: “Viking Energy (VEWF) regrets there was a temporary failure of silt mitigation measures yesterday (Tuesday), during exceptionally heavy rain, at the site of the construction works for the new Sandwater Road.
“On becoming aware of the incident, it was immediately reported it to SEPA and VEWF [Viking Energy Wind Farm] had urgent meetings with our contractor RJ McLeod to deploy immediate remedial action.
“These interim remedial works successfully redirected water to an alternative filtration arrangement. More robust, long term, drainage and settlement arrangements are now being implemented.”
The council’s director of development Neil Grant said: “As a result of the recent heavy rainfall, it has been established that the measures that were in place, including silt water traps and water pumps, to divert surface water away from the Sandwater Loch proved to be ineffective.
“The council has asked to be provided by the contractor with details of improved mitigation measures to ensure that this can’t happen again.
“The silt that was visible in Sandwater Loch and reported to the council yesterday now appears to have dissipated significantly.
“Sandwater Loch is one of many lochs and named watercourses that are part of the Viking Energy Wind Farm Project that will have regular water quality and ecological monitoring.”
A spokesperson for SEPA added: “On Tuesday 22 September, SEPA received reports from members of the public and contractors at a building site in Shetland of an uncontrolled release of water containing sediment into Sandwater Loch.
“SEPA has deployed officers to the site and is liaising with the main contractors to investigate the matter further.
“Pollution incidents can be reported to SEPA at www.sepa.org.uk/report.”