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Power projects get go ahead

Giant wind farms backed in court ruling

Lord Carloway
Lord Carloway

A giant complex of wind farms capable of supplying power to more than a million households is to go ahead after it was backed by a court.

The Inner House of the Court of Session has ruled in favour of Scottish Ministers who appealed against an earlier decision by the Outer House following objections to four projects from the RSPB. The farms in the Forth and Tay could power 1.4 million homes and create thousands of jobs.

Scottish ministers granted planning consent for the Inch Cape, Neart na Gaoithe and Seagreen Alpha and Bravo projects in 2014.

But RSPB Scotland said the 335 turbines could kill thousands of protected seabirds and claimed the Scottish government had acted unlawfully when considering the applications. The Outer House of the Court of Session upheld the complaint in a ruling by Lord Stewart last summer.

But Lord Carloway, the Lord President, has now dismissed the judgement, saying his colleague had interpreted the law incorrectly and the Scottish Government had acted properly.

The Scottish government had  estimated the proposed wind farms could generate between £314 million and £1.2 billion for the Scottish economy. The developments could create between 2,567 and 13,612 jobs during construction.

Since the legal process began the developer of the 450MW Neart na Gaoith farm has engaged the latest technology to halve the number of turbines required to generate the same power.

David Sweenie, Mainstream Renewable Power’s Offshore Manager for Scotland said: “We welcome the ruling of the Inner House of the Court of Session in favour of Scottish Ministers, overturning last year’s decision by Lord Stewart.

“This £2bn project is capable of supplying all the homes in a city the size of Edinburgh with clean energy. It will create over 500 jobs during construction and over 100 permanent jobs once operational.

“More than £540 million will be directly invested in Scotland during the construction phase and a further £610m during the operational phase.

“As a nationally-significant infrastructure project, Neart na Gaoithe will help Scotland and the UK meet their climate and energy goals, and develop a world-leading offshore wind sector.  We have worked closely with a range of partners on the project, including the RSPB and we look forward to continuing to do so as we take the development forward.

“Rapid advances in offshore wind technology have enabled us to reduce the number of turbines to be installed from 125 in the original consent application in 2012, to a maximum of 64 turbines today.

“This is a major step forward for Neart na Gaoithe, which is the only project out of the four offshore wind projects in the Forth and Tay to hold a Contract for Difference (CfD). We plan to move quickly with all our partners to bring this project to construction, and deliver the vitally important jobs and investment that it will create.”

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