Orkney’s Offshore Windfarm & The Russian Connection

Putin’s imperialist invasion of Ukraine has exposed the links that the UK, its organisations and businesses have with Russian money bringing it right to the forefront of the news.

For many decades Russian millionaires have been buying up London, and using the advantages of the UK’s financial services to lodge their money in this country.

It has also been revealed that the campaign to Leave the EU had Russian money backing it Revealed: Leave.EU campaign met Russian officials as many as 11 times. And that large sums have been donated to the Tory party – including in Scotland from Russian donors.

It was reported in the Sunday Herald in 2014 that the then Tory Prime Minister of the UK, David Cameron, was keen to involve the Russian President in the referendum on Scottish Independence.

As well as donations to the Tories and rewards of peerages, there are many links with Russian owned businesses. Lord Barker, who served as an energy minister in David Cameron’s Government, has been urged to quit his extremely lucrative job on the board of the Russian aluminium firm EN+, whose owners include the oligarch Oleg Deripaska.

Last week we all became only too aware of Sovcomflot,  Russia’s largest shipping company, and one of the global leaders in the maritime transportation of hydrocarbons, as NS Challenger successfully loaded with oil at Sullom Voe, Shetland. Intense campaigning by Orcadians prevented NS Champion being able to sail into Flotta, Orkney as a last minute letter from Grant Shapps , UK Minister of Transport was issued. No Entry to UK Ports for Russian flagged, registered, owned, controlled, chartered or operated vessels

And even closer to home is the ScotWind leasing announcement for massive offshore windfarms, where sites to the west and east of Orkney were awarded. The proposed ‘West of Orkney Windfarm’ involves a consortium of companies headed by Offshore Wind Power. The other partners are:

  • Macquarie Corporate Holdings Pty
  • TotalEnergies Holdings UK
  • Renewable Infrastructure Development Group
  • Heerema Marine Contractors Nederland SE
  • Offshore Wind Consultants
  • Shepherd and Wedderburn LLP
  • Siemens Energy
  • Xodus Group

TotalEnergies, active in Russia for over 25 years, has been criticised over its “toothless, useless and highly disappointing” position on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

At the awarding of the offshore windfarm development , Orkney Islands Council, had been in consultation with the consortium prior to the announcement. Leader of OIC, James Stockan said back in January 2022 that the council was looking forward to ” collaborating to achieve our shared goals”

If TotalEnergies continues its operations in Russia will Orkney Islands Council demand its removal from the development in Orkney’s seas?

Orkney Islands Council said it was powerless to stop Sovcomflot’s tanker NS Champion docking and it took action from the UK Department of Trade to stop it, after the biggest protest seen for decades in Orkney by ordinary members of the public. It is not powerless in the development of the massive offshore windfarms.

As the appalling tragedy continues to unfold in Ukraine, killing and maiming the people of that country, will Orkney Islands Council now take a strong stand against the role of TotalEnergies in the offshore windfarms in Orkney’s seas?

Fiona Grahame

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