Supreme Court backs Viking
UPDATE: Energy Isles says result 'opens door' for other Shetland projects
Local campaign group Sustainable Shetland has lost its court battle against the consented 370MW Viking wind farm in Shetland.
Five Supreme Court judges unanimously dismissed the bid to overturn the 103-turbine wind farm’s planning consent on the grounds of impact on migratory birds.
The campaign group had claimed Scottish ministers failed to take proper account of the Birds Directive in respect of the protected whimbrel but the judges disagreed.
They concluded that although the wind farm decision letter “did not mention the Directive as such, the detailed consideration given to SNH’s (Scottish Natural Heritage) advice leaves no serious doubt that it was taken into account”.
“In the context of this proposal the ministers’ duty was… to determine whether to grant consent, taking account of all material considerations, of which the Directive formed part,” the ruling states.
Sustainable Shetland’s suggestions of harm to whimbrel “were unsupported by the evidence, and had not been raised by anyone (including SNH) in their representations on this proposal”, the Lord Justices Neuberger, Sumption, Reed, Carnwath and Hodge said.
Energy Isles, a Shetland company aiming to develop wind projects in Unst and Yell, welcomed the result.
Chairman Paul Riddell said the project by Viking Energy will open the door to further renewables projects that will significantly benefit Shetland communities.
“It’s very rare that an island community with a successful but fragile economy gets to create a whole new sector but that is what Viking and the interconnector will enable Shetland to do,” he said.
“This judgement gives Energy Isles the potential to bring much-needed income and employment to those areas of Shetland like Unst and Yell which are simply not benefiting from the current economic good times.
“It’s also about looking ahead 20, 30, 40 years and trying to build a future for our children and grandchildren when the world we take for granted today will have changed dramatically.”
Image: Sustainable Shetland raised concerns over the project's potential impact on migratory birds (sxc.hu)