The Whimbrell (Numenius phaeopus) is a wading bird of which 95% of the UK population, some 300 pairs, is to be found on the Shetland Isles. This is an important breeding colony and probably the most southerly of all. Despite serious issues and concerns raised by Scottish Natural Heritage, Viking Energy were granted approval for a massive 103 turbine wind farm on Shetland. Judge Lady Clark has now decreed that that permission was not safe as insufficient attention had been given to the EU Wild Birds Directive 2009. Basically the SNP Ministers ignored the European Nature Conservation rules and considered it not relevant in this case. No explanation to that stance has ever been forthcoming so we can assume that for the developers and the government it was an inconvenient truth. The fact is the Whimbrell has won! There were other minor issues such as Viking Energy has no licence to generate electricity and outside these legal concerns the fact that a wind farm that has the capacity to supply 175,000 homes is rather overkill for Shetland with a polulation of 22,000 and with serious financial concerns to the viability or even provision of an interconnector to the mainland.
So, for present, the wind farm is in limbo. Viking and Scottish Government have now to convince the court that adequate consideration and mitigation was put in place and failing to do so suggests that a new application would be required. This is a very divisive issue that has more turns and dips in it than the Cresta Run, with as many opportunities to come to grief. A grass-roots opposition has now grown in strength and experience which might suggest that a future application will be hard fought. Go to Sustainable Shetland for more details. That a Charitable Trust, however well breeched, wishes to invest twice it’s assets in a speculative venture raises questions as to the charitable status of that trust.
I have a feeling this is not the last we are to hear from Lerwick.