The landslip on the Viking Energy wind farm site earlier this month could have been avoided had the construction team followed the developer’s own rules and instructions on floating roads.
The area at the Mid Kames had previously been identified as a risk area for slippage by survey teams, Viking Energy spokesperson Aaron Priest told a meeting of the community liaison group on Tuesday evening.
However, he insisted the landslip on 4 July was an “isolated” incident and gave assurances that people’s properties in the vicinity of the wind farm were not in any danger of being affected by any future incidents.
Priest told the online meeting that the section of cable trench that slipped down the hill had been constructed incorrectly.
Because of the risk for slippage, it should have been excavated and founded like the adjacent wind farm track, but the construction team did not follow the advice and built it as ‘floating’.
As a result, the aggregate deployed in the cable trench was too heavy and a 15 metre long and eight metre wide section of the trench under construction slipped down the hill a distance of 72 metres.
Priest said the company managed to stabilise the area, and “quickly remedied and rectified” the damage.
“The stabilisation has been made permanent there and it has been thoroughly investigated, and as a result of that investigation everybody from operative, foremen, engineers and stability specialists have been fully re-briefed on the causes of what happened and what is required from everybody (…) to make sure that there is no repeat of an incident like that occurring,” Priest said.
He added: “None of the wind farm infrastructure, including the cable trenches, sit above people’s houses (…), so I can re-assure people that there is no risk to people’s houses.”
Because the section of cable trench had been constructed incorrectly, the chair of Tingwall, Whiteness and Weisdale Community Council Andrew Archer asked if the incident has implications for other parts of the wind farm’s infrastructure.
Priest told the meeting that there was no need to re-do sections of the 70 kilometre network of tracks and associated cable trenches.
“All areas along the ridges have been re-visited and checked over. There is limited cable trenching in other parts of the site; it’s all being looked at where there are trenches on downslopes,” he said.
Priest also conceded that the company’s reporting of the incident could have been better.
“The first priority was getting things corrected and stabilised, but it should have been reported more quickly and through a different mechanism,” he said.
A short video clip about the incident started circulating privately last week, resulting in questions being asked.
At the time developer SSE Renewables gave very little information other than confirming the slippage had taken place and that an investigation had been carried out. Shetland News reported on 14 July.
Meanwhile, Priest confirmed that the company no longer plans for turbine deliveries over the A971 and through the Scord of Sound access to the wind farm area.
“The work that has been done at Scord of Sound will be re-instated. There are plans to do that over the summer,” he said.
“There will be no deliveries over the A971, and no access of the Scord of Sound; there is a length of track that would have gone up there; that will no longer be constructed,” he said.
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