Mainstream Renewable Power has been given the all-clear to start construction of the Neart na Gaoithe (NNG) offshore wind farm after a last-ditch attempt by a nature conservancy group to scupper the project in the courts was quashed.
The UK’s Supreme Court has ruled against an application by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) to appeal an earlier ruling by the Scottish courts that supported the consent granted to NNG and three other large offshore wind schemes in Scotland.
The RSPB 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. Its legal fight to get consent for the wind farms overturned was initially successful but in May 2017 the Court of Session in Edinburgh decided that the projects should go ahead.
Andy Kinsella, Chief Executive Officer, Mainstream Renewable Power said: “After more than two and a half years, two court hearings and two rejected applications for leave to appeal by RSPB Scotland, we can finally focus on delivering the very significant benefits this project brings to the Scottish economy and its environment.
“We are delighted with the decision and look forward to working constructively with RSPB Scotland to take the wind farm into construction next year.”
RSPB Scotland said it was “extremely disappointed” by the Supreme Court’s decision. “If these consents and their predicted impacts are realised, there is little doubt these would be amongst the most damaging offshore windfarms for seabirds in the world,” said Anne McCall, Director of RSPB Scotland. “In addition to these enormous risks to wildlife, we had major concerns with the assessment methods and the approach taken by Scottish Ministers.”
RSPB said it would continue working with the developers and Scottish ministers to mitigate the impacts of the projects.
Work on NNG is expected to start in 2018.