Opinion swings towards the windfarm
The poll results was 36 per cent in favour of Viking Energy, with 33 per cent against and 31 per cent still undecided. The figures in the Shetland Times poll last year were 46 per cent against, 33 per cent in favour and 21 per cent undecided. There has been a drop of 15 per cent in opposition to the windfarm, a big increase in the people still undecided and an increase in those supporting Viking Energy.
The initial opinion poll was conducted after nearly two years highly active campaigning by opponents of the windfarm and before the Windfarm Supporters Group was formed.
We believe the change in results reflects our work over the past year to provide clear and professional information to local people. Details of the Shetland Times poll are available here.
Despite all these statistics opponents still claim "the vast majority" of local people are against the windfarm and only a "tiny number of people" are in favour.
Council decision major step forward
The decision of Shetland Islands Council in December to support the windfarm and recommend approval to the Scottish Government is a major step forward. Details of the decision and the reports to councillors are available here.Objections to Revised Plans
Regulators views on the windfarm
The Scottish Environment Protection Agency has withdrawn its objection to the Viking Energy plans after considering the revised addendum plans. The agency now says the Scottish Government can give approval providing a list of conditions are imposed on the development.
Viking Energy has welcomed the news - but opponents, who welcomed SEPA's initial objections, have now questioned SEPA's motives, suggesting they are "driven more by a political agenda rather than being based on sound environmental issues."
Scottish Water has also given its approval to the revised Viking Energy plans.
Scottish Natural Heritage has continued its objections to the plan, but said it wants more talks with the developers. It is hoped that these talks will deal with the outstanding issues of the effects on whimbrels and the visual and landscape issues - two very subjective subjects. SNH says it believes a large windfarm, like Viking Energy, could be approved for the central Mainland of Shetland with some changes to the current plans, including a further reduction in turbines.
The revised Viking Energy proposal were published at the end of September and show radical changes to the original application.The link at the top right will take you to information about the new plans.
The Scottish Government's energy consents unit will now hold a consultation lasting six weeks - extended from four weeks at the request of the Windfarm Supporters. The SIC then has another four weeks to make a decision on the windfarm.
In the next couple of months the Windfarm Supporters will organise various public
meetings to explain the facts about the proposals and to try and counter the
misinformation that is often repeated about windfarms. You can help by
contacting councillors and the energy consents unit using the Support the Windfarm pages.
More renewables for Shetland grid
In November plans were announced that will allow some more renewable energy projects to link into the local grid. Scottish and Southern, the SIC and the Lerwick District Heating Scheme hope to improve the way both the supply and demand for electricity is managed in the islands.
For more information see the Demand Side Managment page.
The North Yell Development Council has submitted an addendum, or revised plans, for its proposed five 850kW turbines on a site just north of Gutcher. Each turbine will be approximately 70 metres high and it is possible the scheme might be allowed a local grid connection as part of the radical Demand Side Management scheme. Otherwise they will have to hope Viking Energy and the interconnector get the go-ahead - that is the only other way the scheme will be connected to the grid.
The scheme involves moving 51,200 cubic metres of peat and the estimated carbon payback time is between one and two years for the 20-year scheme.
The Windfarm Supporters Group believes this is a tremendous scheme for the North Isles and full details of the original planning application are available here.
If you wish to support the planning application you can send the SIC Planning Department a comment using this link.
Two more data masts
Viking Energy has applied for two new data masts at Scar Quilse in North Nesting and Flamister, South Nesting. The new sites have been chosen to avoid any problems with nesting birds after concerns were raised about the initial mast sites.
Information from these masts is vital for the Viking Energy project and when details are available we will have links to the application files and the page where you can register support.
Seabirds decliningA 10-year study, 'Population Trends and Causes of Change 2010', has found a drastic decline in Scotland's seabirds as a result of climate change. The report, published on 27th July, was prepared by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee, which advises the Westminster and devolved governments in the UK.
The number of fulmars has dropped by 38 per cent, kittiwakes by 40 per cent and herring gulls by 33 per cent. It is hard to believe in Shetland, but the bonxie, or great skua, has been put on the so-called 'red list' because of conservation concerns as its numbers dropped by 33 per cent. Numbers of lesser black-backed gulls dropped by 31 per cent.
The main problem is shortage of food due to rising sea temperatures caused by