This is the second time the project has been scaled back to appease ministers and planners. The original 150-turbine plan was initially reduced to 127 turbines, before Scottish ministers insisted that the plans be reduced to 103 turbines only. All 24 turbines in the Delting section have been removed, which reduces both the overall size of the wind farm and the length of its roads.
However, the Viking Energy Partnership, a consortium between the Shetland Charitable Trust, Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) and the owners of the existing five-turbine Burradale wind farm in Shetland, welcomed the Scottish government approval.
“An enormous amount of effort and extensive consultation resulted in us creating a project which is comprehensive, thorough and designed with Shetland’s unique environment in mind,” said Bill Manson, chairman of the Viking Energy Partnership. “This is good news for Shetland, good news for Scotland and good news for the fight against climate change.”
But he added that the approval for the wind farm was just the first step, and there was still “much to do” before the project comes to fruition. The Viking Energy Partnership will now prepare reports for its shareholders so they can consider the funding of the next steps in the project. A programme of activity is due to be published soon, which will outline key stages in the process on financing, procurement and construction.
Central to the proposals is an interconnector between Shetland and the mainland, which would connect Shetland to the National Grid for the first time, potentially paving the way for other renewables projects to prosper in the region. In particular, it could have a knock on effect for wave and tidal renewables, unlocking more of Scotland’s huge marine power potential.
Aegir, a 10MW wave power project planned by Scottish wave developer Pelamis and Swedish utility Vattenfall off the coast of Shetland, stands to benefit, and the developers welcomes Viking’s success.
Aegir’s project development manager, Andrew Scott, said: "This is fantastic news for the future development of our 10MW Aegir Wave Farm, and a big step forward to securing grid connection for marine projects in Shetland.”
He added: “Shetland and its communities are blessed with a huge marine renewable resource and we are working towards harnessing some of this energy to create a new exciting industry exporting clean power."