Firm behind UK’s biggest wind farm accused of ‘green washing’

Viking Energy's construction is taking place on a hillside in Shetland that campaigners say it a vital area of peatland.

Firm behind UK’s biggest wind farm accused of ‘green washing’ Ashley Cooper via Getty Images

Campaigners against the UK’s biggest wind farm have accused the company behind the project of ‘green washing’.

The 103 turbine development is being created in Shetland by Viking Energy.

Once complete, the firm claim it will be able to meet the needs of 475,000 homes and save half a million tonnes of carbon dioxide every year.

It will provide around 440 megawatts of power.

But construction is taking place on a hillside that campaigners say it a vital area of peatland.

They argue by building on it, any benefit from the energy created will be lost.

Laurie Goodlad who has campaigned against the build said: “At the moment they are in the hill digging up and displacing hundreds of thousands of tonnes of peat moor, which is an incredibly important carbon sink.

“It’s the lungs of our islands and in doing that we are releasing tonnes and tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere.

“This push by Viking Energy to allay any fears within the community that things might not be environmentally friendly and I think it is very much something we are being fed, it’s a bit of green wash.”

But the firm, which is made up mainly of SSE and the Shetland Charitable Trust have said they plan to restore the peat and the community will benefit from funds from the wind farm.

Derek Hastings from SSE Renewables said: “We recognise that some people may not be as keen on what we are doing but when we look at the climate emergency, the need to get to a net-zero position, when we have places like this with a wonderful wind resource we think on balance this is the right thing to do.

“We believe this will be a very beneficial project to Shetland in many ways.

“There is community benefit that comes into the community itself, about £72m and the wind farm will provide power not only for Shetland but well beyond Shetland as well.”

The project has been controversial and has suffered delays through legal proceedings and planning issues.

It had original planning consent from in 2012.

The work will also provide an interconnector linking Shetland to the national grid to export power.

Currently construction is on track according to the company and the site should start generating power in 2024.

A spokesperson for Viking Wind Farm and SSE Renewables said: “Much of the Viking site is located on heavily eroding and degraded peat and is therefore a net emitter of that stored carbon.

“Through our Habitat Management Plan we are restoring over 260 hectares of significantly damaged and eroded habitat which will help reverse decades of serious erosion and decline.

“Whilst a modest volume of peat has had to be removed, all peat excavated on site from now on will be retained for reinstatement in situ and/or as part this plan.”

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