The Neart na Gaoithe wind farm off the coast of Fife has been given the go ahead after a long running legal battle with wildlife campaigners
A £2 billion wind farm project off the coast of Fife will go ahead despite the protests of RSPB Scotland.
The charity went to court to challenge the 2014 decision by the Scottish Parliament to grant planning approval for the Neart na Gaoithe wind farm.
It won its initial legal bid after arguing the offshore developments – also including the Inch Cape and Seagreen Alpha and Bravo projects – threatened thousands of seabirds.
However, the ruling was overturned after ministers appealed.
RSPB Scotland then took its fight to the Supreme Court, but its application for leave to appeal was refused on 14 November.
Mainstream Renewable Power is the company behind Neart na Gaoithe. It said work on the project would begin in 2018.
RSPB Scotland’s director, Anne McCall, said the charity was “extremely disappointed” by the decision.
‘In light of this refusal for permission to appeal, we will be taking some time to consider all other options remaining to us,’ she said.
‘However, we are extremely disappointed with this decision, following nearly a decade’s worth of effort from RSPB Scotland to help deliver offshore wind in Scotland in a manner that respects one of the country’s most impressive and internationally-renowned natural assets – its fantastic seabird colonies,’ added McCall.
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Commenting on the decision, the chief executive of Mainstream Renewable Power Andy Kinsella said: ‘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.’
RenewableUK’s chief executive Hugh McNeal said 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,’ he said.
Last month, the world’s first floating wind farm was officially opened around 15 miles off Peterhead in Aberdeenshire.
The five giant turbines are 175-metres tall from sea surface to blade tip and extend another 78-metres below the surface. They are tethered to the seabed by chains in depths of up to 12-metres.
The 30MW farm has already started to deliver electricity to the Scottish grid.