Ministers give go-ahead for Shetland wind farm

Ministers have approved plans for a giant wind farm on Shetland which has divided opinion in the islands for almost a decade.

It is claimed Viking Energy s wind farm on the Shetland mainland will generate an estimated £566 million of capital expenditure and tens of millions of pounds in annual income for the island.

With Shetland’s winds giving an anticipated 50% efficiency the 370-megawatt wind farm could be the most productive in the world, able to power in excess of 175,000 homes more than 16 times the number of households on Shetland. As well as around 140 jobs during the five years of construction, around 34 operational jobs will be created.

Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said: This wind farm will bring enormous benefits to the people of Shetland, generating more than £30m in annual income for the entire Shetland community. Around £20m of that will go directly to the Shetland Charitable Trust.

In response to environmental concerns, Mr Ewing said: The development includes an extensive habitat management plan covering around 12,800 acres, which will restore peatland and offer benefits to a whole range of species and habitats.

It is expected the wind farm will ensure the construction of a subsea interconnector allowing Shetland to export electricity to the mainland and opening up further opportunities for the islands to benefit from other renewables, including community schemes and wave and tidal power.

However, Viking Energy Ltd, the company born of a partnership between Shetland Islands Council and Scottish & Southern Energy, only got the green light to build 103 of the 127 wind turbines it sought. Consent for 24 wind turbines was withheld because of the impact they would have on Scatsta Airport s instrument flight procedures.

The local Windfarm Supporters Group, however, had a different perspective. A spokesman said: This opens a whole new era, there should be exciting times ahead with a new renewable energy industry for Shetland that has enormous potential.