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Ground-breaking compensation deal secured with Shetland crofters

October 26th 2018

A compensation deal for Shetland crofters affected by the planned Viking Wind Farm has been formally approved after no challenge was lodged with the Scottish Land Court by the deadline for appeals.

The legal ruling will benefit around 200 crofters who have crofting rights over most of the land in the site, which will host 103 wind turbines, roads or environmental conservation works if the proposed wind farm goes ahead.

Viking Energy’s Scheme of Development was consented under Section 19A of the Crofters (Scotland) Act 1993 which involved a three-day hearing in Lerwick in July. The written judgment in Viking Energy’s favour was issued by the land court in September and the deadline for appeals passed on 10th October.

Scottish law firm Gillespie Macandrew acted for Viking Energy in the ground-breaking case which was the first application to the land court for a development as large as Viking Wind Farm – set to be one of the biggest onshore wind farms in the UK. Around 8,575 hectares of the wind farm site in the Mainland of Shetland has special protections under crofting law.

The ruling by the court confirms the development to be for a reasonable purpose; the scheme proposed not to be unfair; that it provides fair recompense to each member of the crofting community in the affected area and that the crofting community will benefit financially more than if the development were not to go ahead.

In particular the ruling notes the "generous" compensation for loss of grazing rights, which extend only to the land taken up by the turbine bases, construction hard standings and the solum of the required roads.

Viking Energy Project Director Ian Innes said: “The ruling of the Scottish Land Court is welcomed by the Viking team with our thanks going to Ailsa Wilson QC and Marcus McKay QC, our legal partner Gillespie Macandrew LLP, and our expert witnesses Galbraith, RPS Group and Biggar Economics.

“The decision is the culmination of work extending over 10 years, during which there has been close engagement with the crofting community in Shetland. We look forward now to working with the crofting community as a whole as we progress the development and look to deliver the benefits, including the wider community benefit fund as acknowledged in the ruling.”

Viking Energy aims to bid into the 2019 round of the UK Government’s Contracts for Difference auction which seeks to reduce carbon emissions and tackle climate change by providing power contracts at lowest cost for renewable energy generation.

Viking Energy currently plans to begin construction in 2020 with a view to completing the wind farm and connecting it to the proposed 600MW interconnector to the National Grid in 2024.