A quartet of four large-scale winds farms are set to go ahead in offshore Scotland as the country’s top court overturned an earlier ban obtained by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds which had prevented the developments from being built.
In upholding an appeal by the Scot-Govt, the Court of Session in Edinburgh has ruled that the following four major renewable energy projects by the mainly Chinese and Irish developers can go ahead:
- Mainstream’s 450MW Neart na Gaoithe
- Red Rock’s 784MW
- Inch Cape and SSE/Fluor’s 1050MW Seagreen Alpha and Seagreen Bravo.
The Inch Cape Offshore Wind Farm is an approx. 600MW development off the coast of Angus in eastern Scotland and has been under development since 2009, with the Scot-Govt. approving the project in October 2014.
The initial legal challenge was made at the start of 2015 against the Scot-Govt. decision to grant consent for construction and operation of the Inch Cape Offshore Wind Farm.
The Court of Session’s Outer House (lower appeal) court decision in June 2016 found in favour of RSPB which resulted in the consent decisions being quashed, but the Scot-Govt. appealed that decision to three judges of the Inner House – Scotland’s highest appeal court.
Inch Cape Offshore Limited is 100% owned by Red Rock Power, an Edinburgh-based company established to invest, develop, construct, own and operate clean energy projects, which in turn is owned by China’s SDIC Power Holdings.
A Red Rock spokesman said: “We welcome the court’s ruling which supports the continued development of a £2 billion investment in Scotland’s energy infrastructure.
“We also acknowledge the important and continued role that RSPB has in protecting our internationally important wildlife and we will therefore continue to work collaboratively with the RSPB and all stakeholders to refine the project design to ensure that the project can be delivered whilst minimising environmental impacts.”
Red Rock has already provided significant investment in Scottish energy through its 25% stake in the Beatrice Offshore Wind Farm, which is currently under construction.
Stuart Housden, RSPB Scotland director, said: “Of course we are hugely disappointed by this verdict. Whilst we fully support deployment of renewable energy, this must not be at any cost.
“Combined, these four huge projects threaten to kill thousands of Scotland’s internationally protected seabirds every year, including thousands of puffins, gannets and kittiwakes.”
Neart na Gaoithe holds a Contract for Difference (CfD) and now is on course to be built early next decade.