The community of Shetland today (1 July 2009) presented a petition of over 3600 signatures to Shetland Islands Council convener Sandy Cluness.
The petition was presented by 13 year old Rachael Smith from Hillswick. Rachel is a very keen walker and naturalist, and is very opposed to plans to build Europe’s largest wind farm in Shetland.
Rachel says she opposes the Viking Energy Wind Farm because the wind farm “will devastate the landscape, and ruin the areas where I love to go walking and bird watching”. She added that she felt “it is wrong to build industrial wind farms on peat, and I strongly believe in energy conservation to combat Global Warming”.
The petition was organised by community campaign group Sustainable Shetland, and calls on Shetland councillors not to support any large scale wind farm planning application.
The petition, with 3605 authenticated signatures, is says vice chair Kevin Learmonth, “to remind Shetland councillors of their responsibility to represent their constituents, and to give an indication of the strength of opposition in Shetland at attempts to impose the largest wind farm in Europe on people living here”.
Receiving the petition, council convenor Sandy Cluness indicated that he thought the Viking Energy project “too big”.
Over 95% of signatures on the petition come from within Shetland, which has a population of just 22,000. The petition began long before any planning application was made, and was carried out by what Mr Learmonth calls “an army of community volunteers across Shetland”. He says that the petition “took place in the face of strong opposition from developer Viking Energy who argued that people should not make any decision on the wind farm until the planning application was made”. Campaigners also believe that Viking Energy have acted in bad faith by spending public money to promote their project, whilst claiming it was just “an investigation”.
By way of comparison, the largest consultation exercise ever undertaken by Shetland Islands Council (SIC), "Blueprint for education" resulted in 1286 returns. This survey was distributed to every household in Shetland, with consultation events in every school, and with considerable staff time and expense. The SIC considered this a very high return rate. The Sustainable Shetland petition to councillors gathered nearly three times the response as the SIC survey.
With over 600 members, it is believed that Sustainable Shetland is the largest community membership group in Shetland.
With the deadline for formal objections to the planning application fast approaching on 28 July, it looks like the Shetland community spirit opposing this development will be rising fast over the next few weeks.
Notes for editors: Petition presentation will take place later today at 09:45 Wednesday 1 July outside Lerwick Town Hall.
Sustainable Shetland is a community campaign supporting sustainability and opposing the Viking Energy wind farm project. Founded in February 2008, Sustainable Shetland currently has over 600 paid up members. We believe that the damage caused by building the wind farm on the proposed site will actually contribute to global warming. We support renewable energy projects which are fit for scale and fit for purpose. We believe that the project is acting against the wishes of the Shetland community, and puts community money at unacceptable risk.
Viking Energy Wind Farm is a joint project between Viking Energy Ltd and SSE Viking Limited to build a c. £800m, 540 MW, 150 turbine wind farm in Central mainland Shetland. If built it would be the largest wind farm in Europe.
Shetland Charitable Trust own 90% of shares in Viking Energy Ltd. The remaining 10% are owned by 4 private individuals, one of whom is a Viking Energy Ltd project officer employed by Shetland Islands Council / Shetland Charitable Trust.
Press release ends
Sustainable Shetland is a campaign group formed in March 2008 in response to a proposal for a large scale wind farm in Shetland. We believe these large industrial projects are damaging to our environment. We believe that the Viking Energy wind farm endangers Shetland Community Funds, project costs are underestimated and project income grossly over stated.
We believe that the Viking Energy proposals are everything we do not need in Shetland: they are financially risky and potentially damaging to the Shetland environment.
We want to see sustainable renewable energy projects in Shetland which are fit for scale and fit for purpose, and provide real community benefit.
We are not an "anti windfarm" campaign. However we are strongly opposed to the Viking wind farm proposal. Other projects will be considered on their own merits.