April 1, 2022

Viking wins concrete plant appeals, accusing SIC of ‘serious error’

Andrew Hirst | The Shetland Times | www.shetlandtimes.co.uk

Two large concrete batching plants associated with the Viking Energy windfarm have been given the go ahead, despite councillors’ previous refusal.

The Scottish government this week approved two appeals from Viking developer SSE, overruling the SIC’s decisions from last year.

SSE claimed the council’s planning committee had shown a “fundamental misapprehension” of its role.

Viking had initially been given permission to build three batching plants as part of the overall windfarm consent in 2019.

However it applied to move two of the plants closer to the centre of the site in October 2020, claiming it would result in construction “efficiency gains”.

The revised locations were on two steep hilltops – one 3.2km northeast of Sandwater loch, the other 1.8km northwest of the Upper Kergord section of the B9075.

The batching plants would each be built on 8,000 square metre stone platforms.

The SIC’s planning department considered the proposals “acceptable” and recommended approval.

However, it had also noted objections. Tingwall, Whiteness and Weisdale Community Council raised concerns about noise and suggested one central batching plant would be less environmentally damaging.

Sustainable Shetland described it as “yet another add-on planning application” associated with the windfarm, suggesting the original plans were “not properly thought through”.

Other objections included on the loss of peat habitats, disturbance to breeding birds and the potential for dust to be blown over the surrounding landscape.

The application went before last September’s planning committee, where members went against officers’ recommendations and refused the application.

The committee found that objectors had raised “valid concerns” about the environmental impact and community disturbance. It said there was now a greater understanding of the importance of peatlands, which the refusal would protect.

SSE appealed both refusals in December, It said the planning authority “consistently failed” to give any weight to the views of consultees in making its determination. Had it done so, SSE claimed the committee ought to have granted permission.

It said committee members had “fallen into serious error”.

The Scottish government’s appeal decision found the batching plants were “integral” to the windfarm and there were “no material considerations which would justify refusing to grant planning permission”.

URL to article:  https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2022/04/01/viking-wins-concrete-plant-appeals-accusing-sic-of-serious-error/