Scots kill 2.3GW offshore consents
UPDATE: Mainstream 'committed' to Neart; Inch Cape, Seagreen also suffer
The Scottish courts have quashed planning consent for 2.3GW of offshore wind farms in the Outer Forth and Tay off the country's east coast, including the 450MW Neart na Gaoithe project.
The Court of Session in Edinburgh published its long-awaited ruling today and has determined that Mainstream Renewable Power's Neart, SDIC Power's 784MW Inch Cape and SSE and Fluor's 1050MW Seagreen wind farms no longer have valid planning permission.
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In the judgement, Lord Stewart sided with RSPB claims that the consents granted in October 2014 by Scottish Ministers were defective.
RSPB, which took the judicial review, argued that the projects would have had “serious implications” for how bird and wildlife sites are protected across Scotland.
The Scottish Government today said it remains committed to offshore wind. The decision leaves all three wind farms without planning permission, and will mean further uncertainty for the Contract for Difference for Mainstream’s Neart project.
The Irish developer has been in arbitration with the Low Carbon Contracts Company since earlier this year after the counterparty terminated the project’s £114.39 CfD.
A Mainstream statement said it "remains committed" to developing the wind farm. The Dublin-based company said it has noted the court's decision.
"Neart na Gaoithe has the potential to make a significant contribution to both the Scottish and Westminster governments’ commitment to climate change and to an improved environment which is the vision of so many people and organisations," said the statement.
"This £2bn project is capable of supplying homes in a city the size of Edinburgh with clean energy and we look forward to bringing it to market."
A spokeswoman for the Seagreen project said it was also "disappointed". "We will review the findings in detail and, in consultation with our legal team, consider our next steps," she said.
Inch Cape developer SDIC Power of China is yet to comment.
RSPB said it was "encouraged" by the court's decisions to overturn planning consents.
"Although RSPB Scotland’s decision to take legal action was the right one it is very regrettable that such significant time and effort was needed to reverse the decisions which put so much of Scotland’s wildlife at risk," said head of conservation policy Llyod Austin.
"This case demonstrates the critical importance of clear and effective environmental regulation that is properly implemented, as well as the importance of access to justice for NGOs and citizens to be able to ask the courts to scrutinise public decisions.
"RSPB Scotland is now keen to work with all parties to ensure we focus efforts on delivering much needed renewable energy in a way that does not threaten Scotland’s internationally important wildlife."