A long-running legal battle between Mainstream Renewable Power and RSPB Scotland over the fate of the 450 megawatt Neart na Gaoithe Offshore Wind Farm has finally come to a close, with Scotland’s Supreme Court rejecting RSPB’s application to appeal a previous go-ahead decision.
The story begins in July of 2016 when a judge in the Outer Court of Session in Scotland revoked consent for four separate wind farms — the 600-megawatt (MW) Inch Cape Offshore wind farm, the 450 MW Neart Na Gaoithe offshore wind farm, and the 525 MW (each) Seagreen Alpha and Bravo projects — due to the potential danger to certain species of migratory seabird living in the Special Protection Areas, brought about by
In May of 2017, however, the Inner House at the Court of Session in Edinburgh, Scotland, overturned the July 2016 decision, allowing Mainstream Renewable Power to progress. However, RSPB Scotland promised it would appeal the decision to first the Inner House of the Court of Session — which was rejected in July — and then the Supreme Court — which united Scottish businesses against the RSPB, urging them to abandon further court action or risk 600 local jobs and £2 billion in investments.
That appeal has just been rejected this week by the Scottish Supreme Court, which subsequently clears the way for continued development of the 450 MW Neart na Gaoithe Offshore Wind Farm off the coast of Scotland, in the outer Firth of Forth, 30 kilometers north of Torness.
In a statement released on Tuesday, RSPB Scotland’s Director, Anne McCall, said “RSPB Scotland is extremely disappointed by the Supreme Court’s decision to refuse permission to appeal the recent Inner House, Court of Session Opinion.”
Unsurprisingly, the Supreme Court’s decision has been welcomed by everyone else.
“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,” said a relieved Andy Kinsella, Chief Executive Officer, Mainstream Renewable Power.
“The NnG wind farm will displace 400,000 tonnes of CO2 each year. The RSPB has already delayed the project by two and a half years, during which time it could have displaced approximately 1 million tonnes of CO2, making a very significant contribution to the Scottish and UK Governments’ energy and climate targets.
“Once constructed this £2bn project will be capable of supplying 325,000 homes — a city the size of Edinburgh — with clean energy.”
“News that the Neart na Gaoithe project can now go ahead is good for Scotland, good for the UK and good for our environment,” added Stephanie Conesa, Policy Manager at Scottish Renewables.
“With the potential to create thousands of new jobs and invest hundreds of millions of pounds, this is a project which will make a significant impact on local economies.
“Crucially, Neart na Gaoithe will generate enough clean electricity to supply all the homes in a city the size of Edinburgh, so will also play a huge part in reducing our carbon emissions. Today’s announcement, coming as it does after a long delay, is to be welcomed as an important step forward in that process.”
“This is another significant step forward for the UK’s world-leading offshore wind industry,” said RenewableUK’s Chief Executive Hugh McNeal.
“Major infrastructure projects like Neart na Gaoithe offshore wind farm are vital for our country’s economic growth, as well as playing a key role in tackling climate change. When building work starts next year, Mainstream Renewable Power will be creating thousands of new jobs, and investing hundreds of millions in the UK’s economy as our supply chain extends to every corner of the country.”