Vik­ing in­va­sion? Cancer pa­tient fears peace­ful life will be shat­tered by £580mring of tur­bines

The Sunday Post (Dundee) - - ADVICE - By Chloe Irvine rawdeal@sun­day­

Eve­lyn and Don­nie Mor­ri­son’s croft has been in the fam­ily for more than 200 years.

But now they say their home in Shet­land’s Weis­dale Val­ley will be spoiled by the sight of 155 me­tre-high wind tur­bines all around them – and they be­lieve this will also make the house nearly im­pos­si­ble to sell.

The mas­sive tur­bines are among 103 planned for the Vik­ing En­ergy wind farm, which will be the UK’S largest on­shore fa­cil­ity of its kind when it is com­pleted in 2024.

Eve­lyn, 67, said: “We moved here from fur­ther down the val­ley 30 years ago, as I was un­well from a brain tu­mour and work on the house didn’t get go­ing un­til about 2008. At that point we were won­der­ing whether to con­tinue with the move as the wind farm was start­ing to be­come an is­sue.

“My brain tu­mour is in­op­er­a­ble and I live with com­pli­ca­tions and pain so liv­ing in peace and quiet was per­fect. But, since Shet­land Is­lands Coun­cil gave per­mis­sion for the wind farm, we’ve had noth­ing but un­cer­tainty and stress.

There will be no es­cape for us – who will want to live here if we de­cide to try to sell?”

Grad­u­ally the val­ley is be­ing changed. The bull­doz­ers have rolled in, as foun­da­tions and ac­cess roads that will carry the giant tur­bines are built.

The Weis­dale Val­ley wind farm is a con­tro­ver­sial sub­ject in Shet­land, with crit­ics ques­tion­ing why the plans were not tested at a pub­lic in­quiry. Whal­say’s com­mu­nity coun­cil has called for an in­de­pen­dent in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

One res­i­dent, Michelle San­di­son, 40, said: “Ten thou­sand house­holds will have their lives blighted to pro­vide en­ergy for half-a-mil­lion house­holds on the main­land.”

Steven Coutts, Shet­land Is­lands Coun­cil leader, said there had been “missed op­por­tu­ni­ties” like not trig­ger­ing a pub­lic in­quiry about the project when it was first mooted more than a decade ago.

“While I do not know if that would have changed the de­ci­sion to grant con­sent, the lack of that struc­tured in­quiry has clearly dam­aged com­mu­nity re­la­tions,” he ex­plained. “As the com­mu­nity is aware, large-scale projects are not de­ter­mined by the coun­cil, but by Scot­tish min­is­ters. I do find it ex­tremely re­gret­table that de­ci­sions of such im­por­tance are not ours to take.”

He­len Mon­crieff, of the lo­cal RSPB, fears the wind farm will pose a threat to birds and other wildlife.

She said: “We recog­nise that low-car­bon re­new­able en­ergy has an es­sen­tial role in tack­ling the cli­mate emer­gency we face. How­ever, de­vel­op­ments must be lo­cated and de­signed to avoid harm­ing our most im­por­tant places for wildlife.

“We ob­jected to the Vik­ing En­ergy wind farm in 2009 and again in 2018. This was be­cause we con­sid­ered that it would pose an un­ac­cept­able risk to sev­eral species of birds.”

SSE Re­new­ables, how­ever, said the £580 mil­lion in­vest­ment would make a sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion to Scot­land’s green eco­nomic re­cov­ery. The com­pany said: “Vik­ing is es­sen­tial to un­der­pin the new Shet­land link to the Na­tional Grid and will un­lock its wider re­new­able en­ergy po­ten­tial and help de­liver Shet­land’s fu­ture se­cu­rity of elec­tric­ity sup­ply. It is ex­pected that over 400 jobs will be cre­ated dur­ing con­struc­tion.

“Vik­ing also ex­pects to cre­ate around 35 di­rect new jobs dur­ing

the op­er­a­tional life­time of the wind farm. Vik­ing is com­mit­ted to a com­mu­nity ben­e­fit fund of around £57m over the life­time of the project.”

On the Mor­risons’ croft, the en­ergy giant said: “SSE Re­new­ables has a long track record of be­ing a re­spon­si­ble devel­oper and we do ev­ery­thing nec­es­sary to en­sure that our de­vel­op­ments, in­clud­ing Vik­ing Wind Farm, are de­liv­ered sen­si­tively and to the high­est stan­dards, with strict ad­her­ence to con­sent con­di­tions.

“Vik­ing Wind Farm is com­mit­ted to be­ing a re­spon­si­ble neigh­bour, serv­ing as an in­te­gral part of the com­mu­nity, dur­ing con­struc­tion and for years to come.”

We have had noth­ing but stress, un­cer­tainty and worry and there will be no es­cape

Eve­lyn Mor­ri­son with hus­band Don­nie on their Shet­land croft, top, and how the Vik­ing En­ergy wind farm will look, above

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