Campaign group escalates complaint about SIC’s handling of Viking Energy windfarm ‘to the next level’
Campaigners have escalated their complaint about the SIC’s handling of the controversial Viking Energy windfarm.
Save Shetland announced last night (Tuesday) that it had now taken its complaint about the planning authority to the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman.
The group first raised its grievance last month. It also submitted a petition to the SIC with more than 1,200 signatures calling for work on the windfarm to be halted.
Members were concerned work was progressing before several conditions had been discharged, the most important of which being a financial bond.
A financial guarantee is not in place to this day,” said the group’s Ernie Ramaker.
“Save Shetland believes this willingness on the part of the SIC to accommodate the developer puts it, and thereby the Shetland people, at a great disadvantage.”
Neil Grant director of development services at the SIC responded to the group saying: “In any development, the council, as a reasonable planning authority, cannot adopt a blanket policy of automatically pursuing enforcement action in relation to any alleged breach of planning conditions by a given developer.”
Save Shetland said that while the approach may be reasonable for less important developments, it considered the absence of a financial bond to be a “major liability to the people of Shetland”.
“We are of the opinion that the project therefore should never have been allowed to commence before the bond was in place,” said Mr Ramaker.
“For these reasons, we have taken the complaint to the next level.”
Viking Energy said at the time of the initial complaint that it submitted proposals for the financial bond, or decommissioning guarantee, to the SIC in 2019 and discussions had been ongoing since.
“The matter currently rests with the council,” it said.
“VEWF is aware that the council is taking independent expert advice on the terms and nature of the decommissioning guarantee.”
A decommissioning guarantee is a standard requirement of a project consent to ensure finances are in place to cover the eventual removal of the windfarm at the end of its life.
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