Supreme Court appeal

6 August 2014. Members meeting of Sustainable Shetland is unanimous in their decision to continue the legal battle against the proposed 103 turbine windfarm on peatland in the heart of Shetland.

This means taking our case to the Supreme Court in London.

To date £130,000 has been raised to cover legal costs relating to the Judicial Review into the Scottish Ministers decision to grant consent to the VE development. On Thursday 27th February 2014 Scottish Ministers appealed Lady Clarke of Calton’s decision of September 2013 to overturn consent, in front of a panel of three Judges in the Inner Court of Session led by Lord Gill. This Scottish Government court of session appeal was successful. Consequently Sustainable Shetland members have decided to maintain their opposition to the Viking Energy windfarm, and will take the appeal to the Supreme Court in London. We need the help and support of members, supporters and those who care about the environment and well being of Shetland to help us with this appeal. We need your money. Donate here.

A wind farm view

Scale: 103  turbines and up to 457MW capacity.

Turbine size: tower 90m, turbine blade diameter 110m. Total height - base to tip is up to 145m.

By way of comparison, the largest of the current Burradale turbines is 71m high, Lerwick Town hall clock tower is about 22m and millennia old Mousa Broch is about 13m high.

  • Location: Shetland Islands. UK. Specific site most of North Central mainland Shetland.

Size: Site area will be about 18 km north-south and at widest point 11 km East to West. (That's about 11 miles by 7 miles)

Area of site: up to 12,800 hectares (32,000) acres.

Development cost about £685m at September 2010

Cable to mainland UK ("the inter connector") £550m +

Converter station, site of about 200m x 120m. Buildings will be up to 4 stories high.

Developers: 50/50 joint Project between Viking Energy LLP (subsidiary of Shetland Charitable Trust) and SSE Viking Ltd (subsidiary of Scottish and Southern Energy). Each partner carries one vote.


Sustainable Shetland is very concerned with:

Loss of cultural heritage landscape. The site will be visible across much of Shetland. From nearly one end of the islands to the other. At night the site will more resemble airport runways than rural hills.

Lost and damaged habitats. Plant, animal and bird and fish species within and beyond the site negatively impacted.

Peat is a carbon sink. Peat takes thousands of years to form, and actively stores and absorbs climate damaging CO2. Damaging peat on this scale releases large quantities of CO2. It is madness to damage ancient peat deposits for a so-called environmental project.

This project will create an adverse impact on the landscape of almost all of Shetland. A generation will grow up knowing nothing better than hilltops covered with wind turbines.

About 65 miles of new roads (some up to 30 feet / 10m wide) through peat and blanket bog.


  • Up to 12 quarries
  • Total aggregate now to be extracted: 1.47 million m3
  • Total area of quarries: at least 1.7 km2

3 of the quarries are to be over 2 hectares (200 x 100m) in size. Most of the others are over 1 hectare each.

Giant building site

  • Concrete batching plants
  • Construction camps
  • Ongoing site infrastructure like control and sub-stations, set down areas, crane pads, a converter station, turbine foundations and towers.

All this can cause substantial damage on the immediate and surrounding environment, as well as effect site ecology and wildlife.

The wind farm life span is expected to be 25 years. Decommissioning will be partial, site restoration will be experimental, untried and untested, and above all - partial. Roads, foundations, ditches and other non-standing infrastructure may be left in place for ever. This will continue to cause environmental damage and exacerbate peat instability and carbon release for generations to come.

Financial risk

If the project fails, Shetland's exposure would be a minimum of £61m, but could also be as high as £360m if financed through borrowing. With Charitable Trust total funds standing around £180m, this would spell financial ruin for Shetland now, and for generations to follow.

If any profits were generated, this would be on the back of government subsidy and increased electricity costs. In both cases we pay as taxpayers, then we pay again as electricity consumers.

From the point of view of community funds, this project is a reckless gamble at the expense of the environment, landscape of Shetland. Read more on the wind farm finances.

Human Impact

The Viking Energy windfarm is a divisive issue for Shetland. Without having held a referendum to gauge public opinion it is not possible to state exactly how may people are for or against. What we can say is that the Energy Consents Unit received 2772 individual objections and only 1109 in support. A Sustainable Shetland petition against the development gathered 3474 signatures and public consultation meetings in Brae, Aith, Dunrossness and Lerwick found on average that 75% of attendees opposed the project.

Whatever the figure, it is true to say that feelings are running high on both sides and this has been in evidence in many public forums including meetings, social media and the press. In itself this is damaging to a small island community.

Beyond numbers and statistics, there are very real concerns about the impact the project will have on the health, mental well being and daily lives of those who live near or within the windfarm, both during the construction phase, and throughout the 25 years when it is operational. Although the community was assured by Viking Energy that a Health Impact Assessment would be carried out this never materialised, which has resulted in feelings of anger, frustration and helplessness among those people whose fears have not been addressed.