RSPB Scotland loses legal challenge against £2bn North Sea wind farm

Beatrice offshore wind farmWork on a £2 billion wind farm off the Fife coast will begin next year after the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) lost a long-running legal battle against the development.

The Inner House of the Court of Session yesterday refused RSPB Scotland’s application to appeal the Court’s earlier decision to the Supreme Court, clearing the way to proceed with the 450MW Neart na Gaoithe offshore wind farm.

The project – and two other nearby arrays proposed by Inch Cape and Seagreen with a collective development value of circa £10bn – have been in limbo for more than two years after RSPB Scotland launched a court action to overturn planning permission granted to the developers by Scottish Ministers.

The bird conservation group initially won its case but the decision was overturned in May in a ruling presided over by Scotland’s most senior judge, Lord President, Lord Carloway.

The charity last month lodged an application with the Inner House of the Court of Session seeking leave to appeal that decision to the Supreme Court, but that request has now been denied.

Developers Mainstream Renewable Power said it expected to create 500 construction jobs over the course of the project.

Andy Kinsella, chief executive of Mainstream' offshore division
Andy Kinsella, chief executive of Mainstream’ offshore division

Andy Kinsella, chief operating officer, Mainstream Renewable Power, said: “After more than two years and two court hearings, we hope that the RSPB acknowledges a fair hearing and allows us to get on with delivering the very significant benefits this project brings to the Scottish economy and its environment.

“Once constructed this £2bn project will be capable of supplying 325,000 homes - a city the size of Edinburgh - with clean energy.

“It will create more than 500 direct jobs during construction and over 100 direct permanent jobs once operational. £540 million will be directly invested in Scotland during the construction phase with a further £610m during the operational phase.

“We are delighted with the decision and look forward to working constructively with the RSPB to take the wind farm into construction next year.

“This project was consented by Scottish Ministers in October 2014 on the advice of Scottish Natural Heritage and Marine Scotland. We have been rigorous throughout the project to work with partners and supply chain businesses to find the best possible way to deliver the project and we are looking forward to seeing NnG up and running.

“We have taken advantage of significant advances in the technology to be used allowing the number of turbines to be reduced from the 125 in the original consent application in 2012, to a maximum of 64.”

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