Scottish court suspends $14bn of wind projects over seabird fears

Scotland’s supreme civil court has backed an objection brought by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) against three Scottish offshore wind projects. The society claimed that the government of Scotland had gone ahead with the schemes without adequately consideration of their impact on nearby colonies of seabirds.

As a result of the ruling, three projects with a combined peak generating capacity of 2.3GW had their permissions overturned.

They are:

  • The 784MW Inch Cape scheme, recently taken over by Chinese giant SDIC
  • The 448MW Neart Na Gaoithe project, owned by Irish firm Mainstream Renewable Power
  • The 1.05GW Alpha and Bravo projects, owned by the Seagreen, a joint venture between London-based utility SSE and US engineer Fluor.

Together the four arrays have an estimated inward investment value of between £7bn and £10bn ($9bn-14.3bn).

Paul Wheelhouse, Scotland’s minister for business, innovation and energy, said the government would "carefully consider the judgment and its implications".

RSPB Scotland could not just stand by and let such devastating impacts on Scotland’s wildlife happen without making a stand. Regrettably, legal action was our only option– The RSPB

This was shortly followed by the launching of appeals against the Court of Session’s ruling by the government, Mainstream Renewable Power and SDIC.

A spokesman for Mainstream told the Courier newspaper: "We note that the Scottish ministers have lodged an appeal against the recent decision of the Scottish Court of Session in favour of the petition to review the consent by the Scottish ministers for four offshore wind farms in the firths of Forth and Tay, of which Neart na Gaoithe is one.

"Mainstream can confirm that the company has today also lodged a separate appeal against the Scottish Court of Session’s decision as it relates to the proposed Neart na Gaoithe wind farm."

The four projects first won approval from the Scottish government in October 2014. The RSPB launched its challenge in January 2015.

The RSPB commented: "RSPB Scotland had been working with the project developers and Scottish ministers for several years to try and reduce the harm to seabirds. Unfortunately, consents were granted when thousands of gannets, puffins, kittiwakes and other seabirds from internationally protected wildlife sites like the Bass Rock (pictured) and the Isle of May were predicted to be killed every year.

"The government’s statutory nature conservation advisers, Scottish Natural Heritage and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee, had also raised significant concerns about the windfarms. In these circumstances, RSPB Scotland could not just stand by and let such devastating impacts on Scotland’s wildlife happen without making a stand. Regrettably, legal action was our only option."

Image: Bass Rock in the Firth of Forth is thought to have the world’s largest collection of gannets ( Commons)

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  1. I may be mistaken ,but I have an idea that ultra high frequency sound waves emitted from each and every tower wind turbine will in fact effectively have the birds avoiding flying anywhere near such installations on the sea or on the land! It may well be worth while setting up one such a suitably designed electrically powered sound emission system to see whether or not (,subject to being adjusted to achieve the most effective pitch) it will keep the birds away ! If it can then be fully demonstrated to the Court to be
    100% effective – then an appeal made on such a basis could then conceivably be negotiated with the Court and with the wild life protection associations concerned!

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