The proposed 12-turbine Mossy Hill wind farm on the outskirts of Lerwick has been given the green light by Shetland Islands Council’s planning committee.
Councillors met this week to discuss Peel Energy’s plans and the development was approved with two extra conditions added to an already large list of requirements the developer will need to adhere to.
A motion by committee chairman Theo Smith to approve the plans with a condition to strengthen shadow flicker mitigation for homes closest to the development was passed after a vote by the eight councillors.
A new condition was also imposed to deal with concerns from the Shetland shooting club over the site encroaching onto its safety drop zone.
The plans already came with over 30 suggested conditions from the council’s planning service in areas like operation, construction, aviation, bird breeding, habitat and peatland.
One is to develop a scheme for the shutdown of specific wind turbines during times when shadow flicker resulting from the blades is predicted to occur in nearby areas of housing.
A counter motion by North Mainland member Andrea Manson to reject the plans due to the proximity to houses, the possible effect on a local water supply and shadow flicker was outvoted by six to two, with only South Mainland councillor George Smith backing her.
Members were recommended to approve the plans as its “impacts would be outweighed by the benefits of renewable energy generation”.
Manchester based Peel Energy is looking to build a 12-turbine wind farm with a generating capacity of up to 50 megawatts on a site between Lerwick and Scalloway after scaling down its initial plans from 21 turbines.
Each generator would have a maximum blade tip of 145 metres, and it is anticipated that the wind farm would generate electricity for 25 years before being decommissioned.
The wind farm is dependent on a subsea transmission cable being laid between Shetland and the Scottish mainland, something that is likely to happen should the planned 103-turbine Viking Energy farm win government subsidy later this year.
In a report presented to councillors on Monday, council planners said the wind farm would make a “significant contribution to meeting greenhouse gas emission and renewable energy targets” and would provide job opportunities and contribute to the local economy.
The report added that “environmental effects can be mitigated by planning conditions”.
Three residential properties are just over half a mile of the wind turbines, at Frakkafield and Tagdale, and a further seven properties are within a mile.
The committee heard from the council’s development manager team leader John Holden, who acknowledged that issues like the impact on landscape can be centred on a “emotional response” where there are “no formulas to assist”.
But planning officers said it was not considered that the landscape impacts were significant enough to warrant refusal of the planning application when balanced against the potential reduction in greenhouse gases that are anticipated as a result of the development.