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Disappointment at size of Shetland's consented 'Viking' wind farm

Last modified: 04 April 2012

Whimbrel in flight

This development will put birds such as the whimbrel at risk

Image: Graham Catley

The Scottish Government has approved the construction of 103 turbines by the Viking Energy development on Shetland – this has been greeted with disappointment by RSPB Scotland.

Whilst the developer has made welcome and considerable effort to reduce the potential impact of the initial proposal - reducing the number of turbines from an initial proposal of 200 to 103 - we believe the scale of the development should have been reduced still further to reduce the risk of harm to rare species including whimbrel and red-throated divers, for which Shetland is a UK stronghold.

Direct impact to unique wildlife

The development will also have major adverse impacts on important peat land habitats. This damage could have been minimised if the overall scale of the development had been reduced further.

Aedán Smith, Head of Planning and Development at RSPB Scotland, said: 'We recognise that Viking Energy has made significant efforts to reduce the direct impact of this development on Shetland's unique wildlife. The development will make a welcome contribution to meeting our ambitious renewables targets in Scotland, and will help to meet the challenge of climate change.

'It is now absolutely critical that this development includes significant long term investment in research and habitat enhancement to make sure that the negative impacts on Shetland's wildlife can be both offset and significantly reduced.'

'However, the developers and Scottish Ministers should have gone much further to try and ensure that any negative consequences would be minimised, and it is disappointing that they have decided to risk the Shetland environment, as well as birds like whimbrel, with such a large scale proposal in their heartland.

'It is now absolutely critical that this development includes significant long term investment in research and habitat enhancement to make sure that the negative impacts on Shetland's wildlife can be both offset and significantly reduced. There are significant opportunities to deliver environmental enhancement across Shetland which will benefit wildlife and tourism. We look forward to working with the Viking developers to deliver this.'

Protected species

Shetland is one of the most important areas for breeding birds in the UK, with many species protected under both the Scottish and EU Birds Directives. 

The development site is in the core range of breeding merlin and red-throated divers and is particularly important for nesting whimbrel. Over 90 per cent of the UK population nest on Shetland. Other species include golden plover and Arctic skua.

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