A court in Scotland has overturned a ruling blocking consent for four offshore wind farms.
Wildlife protection charity RSPB had successfully challenged planning permission for the four projects, set to be built off the east coast of Scotland, but the Court of Session in Edinburgh has ruled that the projects should go ahead.
Scottish ministers granted planning permission in 2014 for the Inch Cape, Neart na Gaoithe and Seagreen Alpha and Bravo projects. However the RSPB challenged that decision, winning a legal case in 2016.
The charity believes that the wind farms, which could generate a total of 2.3 GW, would endanger thousands of protected bird species in the Firth of Forth and Firth of Tay.
RSPB said it was “hugely disappointed” by the court’s decision. “Whilst we fully support deployment of renewable energy, this must not be at any cost,” said Stuart Housden, Director of RSPB Scotland. “Combined, these four huge projects threaten to kill thousands of Scotland’s internationally protected seabirds every year, including thousands of puffins, gannets and kittiwakes.”
Mainstream Renewable Power, developer of the 450 MW Neart na Gaoithe project, welcomed the court’s ruling, and said it was a “major step forward for the project”, which will be supported by a contract for difference.
“As a nationally-significant infrastructure project, Neart na Gaoithe will help Scotland and the UK meet their climate and energy goals, and develop a world-leading offshore wind sector,” said David Sweenie, Mainstream Renewable Power’s Offshore Manager for Scotland. “Rapid advances in offshore wind technology have enabled us to reduce the number of turbines to be installed from 125 in the original consent application in 2012, to a maximum of 64 turbines today.”