On 5th September 2021, the Times printed an article under the heading “Thousands more wind turbines planned for Scots countryside”i. For those of us who feel that the Scottish countryside is already overburdened with ugly industrial scale wind farms (or, as the article puts it, is already “one giant wind farm”), this comes as quite a blow.

On the assumption that the UK, including Scotland, is a civilised place where politicians and public officials don’t tell lies, and where words mean what they appear to mean, then the article does offer up hope for those benighted inhabitants of Scotland’s countryside, for whom more wind turbines is their worst nightmare. For example, the “ambition for between 8 and 12 gigawatts of installed onshore wind by 2030” announced by a Scottish Government spokesperson is said to be “[s]ubject to public consultation”. Furthermore:

Government officials insist that Scotland has some of the most stringent environmental impact regulations anywhere in the world.

The reality

Well, if one listened to the politicians and Government spokespersons, one might assume that local inhabitants have nothing to worry about – surely they will be kept fully informed of developments, their concerns will be heeded, and if there is enough local opposition the projects won’t be allowed to proceed?

How does that operate in reality? Some Shetland residents might reply “Not well at all. Be afraid – be very afraid.”

A report in the Shetland Newsii on 7th September 2021 suggests that complacency in the face of soothing official noises might well be misplaced, at least where wind farms are concerned.

RESIDENTS living in the settlement of Newing, in South Nesting, are up in arms after realising that there is little they can do to prevent a massive borrow pit being opened up less than 500 metres from their homes to extract aggregate for the 103 turbine Viking Energy wind farm.

“Borrow pits”, by the way, is a euphemistic phrase which appears to have been dreamed up in a marketing suite. It means quarries.

The formally titled NBP06 at the eastern fringes of the wind farm site is the only borrow pit located anywhere near a settlement, and sits just above the six houses that make up the hamlet of Newing.

Speaking on behalf of the local resident group, representing four of the five inhabited houses at Newing, Suzanne Malcolmson said she hoped that “in an ideal situation the powers that be would realise that a quarry of this magnitude is too close to residential properties, and look elsewhere for the aggregate they need”.

Surely, with all this consultation taking place, and some of the most stringent environmental impact regulations anywhere in the world, the local people will be fully protected from this sort of thing and SSE will realise that quarry operations so close to people’s homes is inappropriate and won’t now take place? Er, not quite:

[D]eveloper SSE Renewables said it had every right to extract rock from the borrow pit granted by Scottish ministers as part of the varied section 36 consent on 24 May 2019.

The indicative layout, drainage plan and management plan for up to 10 borrow pits, including NBP06, was approved by the council’s planning department on 30 July last year.

Come now, locals. You must have failed to respond to the consultation that took place before part of the varied planning consent was granted? You can’t blame other people if you aren’t paying attention at the critical moment, you know. What do you mean, nobody consulted you?

Malcolmson said at no time during the planning process had there been any correspondence from either the developer or the planning authority. She said the Newing residents should have been classed ‘neighbours’ and, hence, been notified.

Justin Watson, who lives closest to the planned borrow pit, said he cannot understand how a quarry that is less than 500 metres away from residential properties got planning consent when the Kergord borrow pits are at least 1,200 metres away from the nearest houses.

The health and wellbeing of the residents here should have been put into consideration,” he said.

Well, yes, that seems reasonable. Put like that, surely SSE Renewables will reconsider?

Er, not really.

Spokesman for Viking Energy wind farm Aaron Priest meanwhile said: “Plans for a borrow pit adjacent to Skellister Loch are a longstanding part of the consent for the wind farm and are fully detailed in the related consent conditions.

In response to an approach in June 2021, further information was provided to local residents on the intentions to access, develop and operate the proposed borrow pit (named NBP06).

All blasting taking place during the wind farm’s construction period is fully monitored and pre-notified to Shetland Islands Council. All blasting across the wind farm site sits well within defined statutory limits and is subject to comprehensive ongoing monitoring.”

So, shut up, you annoying little people. How dare you get in the way of saving the planet? Oh yes, and just for being so annoying, take that!

Meanwhile, Nesting and Lunnasting Community Council has objected to an application by SSE Renewables to extend working hours on site to 7am to 7pm Monday to Friday, and 7am to 4pm Saturday and Sunday.

Consultation? Some of the most stringent environmental impact regulations anywhere in the world? Don’t make me laugh.

i https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/thousands-more-wind-turbines-planned-for-scots-countryside-sd5drlqcn

ii https://www.shetnews.co.uk/2021/09/07/residents-unhappy-with-viking-borrow-pit-plans-close-to-their-houses/

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