A newly-formed coalition of organisations that are supportive of the Neart na Gaoithe (NnG) offshore wind farm – approved to be built off the East coast of Scotland – has been formed to appeal to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) Scotland to abandon further court action aimed at delaying the project.
The 29 companies, which would be behind the creation of many of the 600 jobs the offshore wind farm will create during construction and operation, have formed the NnG Offshore Wind Farm Coalition to campaign in support of the project, which is the only major infrastructure project that is ready to build in Scotland next year.
The coalition says that the Scottish renewables supply-chain can ill-afford further delays in the project and appeals to the membership organisation to accept the recent decision of Scottish courts.
In July, 2017, the Inner House of the Scottish Court of Session rejected RSPB’s request for permission to appeal a previous decision by the Court of Session which gave NnG the green light.
RSPB Scotland has told Mainsteam, the Ireland-based developer, that they now plan to ask the Supreme Court in London directly for permission to lodge a further appeal. The project was originally approved by Scottish Ministers in 2014.
NnG is one of four wind farms consented in the outer Forth and Tay estuaries and the only one which has been awarded a Contract for Difference, meaning it is ready to start construction as early as next year.
NnG would generate 450 megawatts of electricity – enough energy to power all the homes in a city the size of Edinburgh – and will displace 400,000 tonnes of CO2 every year from a site some 10 miles off the coast of Fife.
It represents an investment of £2 billion, is forecast to create 500 direct jobs during construction and a further 100 direct, permanent jobs once built. Technological developments in wind turbine design in the three years since NnG was originally consented mean that the project now requires 60% fewer turbines than what was originally planned – to generate the same amount of renewable power.
The RSPB Scotland said the development could put the lives of thousands of seabirds at risk and its legal case is that the Scot-government failed to carry out a robust enough environmental assessment before approving the development.
** This case (RSPB v Scot-Govt Ministers ex parte Mainstream Renewables) will still be live when the Renewable Energy Law & Policy Post-Brexit conference is held at Dundee University on 1 December 2017.
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A Scot-govt. spokesman commented: “We note the RSPB’s decision, which comes after the Court of Session in Edinburgh ruled, decisively, in favour of Scottish Ministers and subsequently dismissed the RSPB’s application for permission to appeal to the UK Supreme Court.
“The Scottish Government is focused on creating a sustainable energy future for Scotland, so that Scotland can meet its obligations to fight climate change; and thereby tackling a key threat to marine ecosystems.”
Companies involved in the coalition include 8.2 Aarufield, CS Wind UK, Partrac, Scotia Supply Chain, ST3 Offshore and a number of haulage, construction, transportation companies and other environment and energy planning firms.
Alan Duncan of Scotia Supply Chain – who is a spokesman for the NnG Offshore Wind Farm Coalition – added:“We have come together to call on RSPB Scotland to recognise the serious social, economic and environmental consequences of ignoring the advice of the Inner House of Scotland’s Court of Session and continuing to appeal this decision.
“Hundreds of families in communities across the east of Scotland will be directly affected should this project not go ahead. Highly skilled jobs, vital apprenticeships and the socio-economic benefits of this project are all at risk for the hard-pressed communities within the region.
“While we are sympathetic to the concerns of the RSPB about the planning process, this is about real people, real jobs and real environmental benefit. Scotland cannot afford to put nationally significant infrastructure projects like NnG at risk.
“We all work in the environmental power sector, developing projects like NnG which will help to combat climate change, protect our environment and create jobs. The project has sought to work with RSPB from day one and we are keen to continue to work together with them to increase industry understanding of how offshore wind assets and wildlife can successfully thrive together.”
17 Aug 2017