20 March, 2017 - 17:28

As part of their election campaign, Orkney Greens have pledged not to support two major windfarm development proposals planned by Hoolan Energy in the county. Current turbine proposals at Costa Head in Birsay, and Hesta Head in South Ronaldsay each comprise 5 turbines at 125 metres high totalling 20MW generation capacity.

Steve Sankey, prospective Green OIC candidate in the Council Ward of East Mainland, South Ronaldsay and Burray, which includes the Hesta proposal said: “The scale and visual impact of these proposals right on the cliffs are horrific. These massive turbines are designed for offshore use, and at 125 metres high are twice the size of St. Magnus cathedral. They’re bigger than even the largest turbine at Burgar Hill which is 116 metres high. Orkney tourism is worth 1,200 jobs and 12% of the Orkney economy, and I’m not sure that our tourists come to view giant turbines.”

“Greens are generally supportive of renewable energy, but our support has to be tempered by their impact on the landscape, conservation interests and on the community as a whole. We’d much rather onshore wind proposals in Orkney be initiated by communities like many of the North Isles turbines. We’d like the off-grid revenues from turbines to be directed at the alleviation of fuel poverty in Orkney, which at 63% of households, and a shocking 85% of elderly households must be the priority issue to address.”

Community initiatives such as Home Smart Orkney, which specifically targets the output of north isles wind turbines to individual households is suggested as an example of the way forward by the Orkney Greens. Similarly, future output from other turbines is to be directed at hydrogen generation for the internal ferry fleet, which is another imaginative community-oriented output.

Helen Woodsford-Dean, prospective Green OIC candidate in the Council Ward of West Mainland which includes the other, Costa turbine proposal, added: “Like Steve, I am concerned at the impact that some of these larger windfarms, and associated infrastructure, may have on the Orkney landscape and wildlife. Both sites hold rare peregrine falcons that would be at risk, as well as other species. It doesn’t make much sense to me to save one element of the environment, in this case CO2 emissions, at the cost of other aspects – we need to start thinking more holistically in Orkney about how our county produces energy cleanly and responsibly in the future, and how that energy is then fairly distributed to those in need in our community. That is true sustainability.”

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