Shetland Charitable Trust

Shetland Charitable Trust (SCT)is a registered charity which exists to benefit the inhabitants of Shetland. Its Trust Deed states that its aim is to provide public benefit to and improve the quality of life for the people of Shetland, especially in the areas of: Social care and welfare, Arts, culture, sport and recreation, education, the environment, natural history and heritage.

The Trust is currently run by 21 of the 22 Shetland Islands Council councillors, plus 2 appointed positions; head teacher of Anderson High School, and the Lord Lieutenant of Shetland. The missing councillor is Alan Wishart, who resigned as Trustee and Viking Energy Ltd director, to take up a paid post with Viking Energy Ltd...

The Trust owns 90% of the shares in Viking Energy Limited, after buying them from Shetland Islands Council.

Viking Energy Limited is 50% partner with SSE Viking Limited as part of the Viking Energy Partnership - the developer of the Viking Energy wind farm.

There is considerable concern that the Charitable trusts involvement with Viking Energy is contrary to the wishes of the majority of the Shetland community, and that since the entire Shetland community is the beneficiary of the Trust, this is unfair and unprincipled behaviours by a charity.

Consultation on SCT reform

In response to demands from charity regulator OSCR, Shetland Charitable Trust was instructed to come forward with proposals to reform its governance to bring it into line with charity law, especially to address the dominance of local authority councillors acting as trustees.

The 2010 SCT reform consultation proposals are here. The main thrust of their report is the new Trust should have 8 councillors plus 7 appointed others. Basically, that council control should continue. To be fair however, since some trustees want limited reform, some more reform and some want none at all, the report may be trying to find a happy medium to suit councillor / trustees. unfortunately, this goes no where near addressing the needs or wants of the Shetland community.

Sustainable Shetland have submitted a detailed 7 page response to these proposals. View as PDF file at

This 2010 response to the first consultation is here at

Summary of Sustainable Shetland 2010 response:

  • We agree that reform of the Charitable Trust is necessary and desirable.
  • We agree that the trust retaining charitable status is in the best interests of the Trust and its beneficiaries.
  • With regard governance, we agree that maintaining the status quo is not an option.
  • A 15 member Charitable Trust would be acceptable.
  • An 8-7 split between councillors and council appointed trustees is not acceptable.
  • Maintaining a majority of councillors is not acceptable. We note the original McFadden committee report, which informed the Act, recommended that no more than a third of councillors serve on a Trust.
  • Council appointed trustees is not democratic and is not acceptable.
  • We feel that council appointed trustees may not be sufficient to prove independence, and may prove the reverse, that council control remains.
  • We believe a potential risk exists that the continuation of any number of councillor trustees with voting rights may compromise the charitable status of the Trust or its future integrity or viability.
  • We believe that all Trustees should be directly elected to the Charitable Trust
  • We believe that other options for governance reform should be considered and consulted upon.
  • Future consultation should include direct community engagement such as public meetings, events, workshops and surgeries
  • The current report proposals leave the risk of a future SIC with a slim political party majority would ensure “their” members and supporters gained control of Shetland Charitable Trust through SIC councillors and appointed trustees. Such control may be manifestly disproportionate to their initial council majority.
  • Structure of councillor plus councillor nominee could magnify any council imbalance rather than create a more representative charitable trust.
  • The current proposals may be viewed as “too little too late” and invite further scrutiny or action from regulators or aggrieved trust beneficiaries.
  • Holyrood and Westminster may take a continuing councillor majority on SCT into account when deciding on local authority funding.
  • We agree that a maximum of two consecutive terms for trustees is acceptable.
  • We accept either a four or five year term for Trustees, but that all trustees should serve the same length of term.
  • We would like the trust to consider phased elections to maintain trustee continuity, where at any time the trust would comprise a mix between recent and more experienced trustees, as proposed between appointed and councillor trustees.
  • We would like the Trust to consider mechanisms for the recall of individual Trustees by beneficiaries of the Trust by democratic means.
  • We believe that the chair of the Charitable Trust should be independent of Shetland Islands Council.
  • We support the principle that Trustees reflect the geographical, gender, racial, age and income diversity which exists within Shetland.
  • To this end we would like the Trust to investigate mechanisms to enable this to happen, including consideration of training, support, expenses or remuneration within strictly controlled parameters.
  • We would like the trust to consider mechanisms to include non-voting, co-opted individuals with specific areas of expertise.
  • Any change to the Trust deed should be referred back to the beneficiaries of the trust for consultation, and ratified by registered voters.

Full Sustainable Shetland response and cover letter here. Full Sustainable Shetland response to Charitable Trust consultation