Scottish courts overrule consent to four offshore wind farms

The Scottish courts have revoked consent for 2.3GW of offshore wind farms off the country's east coast, including the 450MW Neart na Gaoithe project.

In its long-awaited ruling the Court of Session in Edinburgh yesterday said that it had determined that Mainstream Renewable Power's Neart, SDIC Power's 784MW Inch Cape and SSE and Fluor's 1050MW Seagreen wind farms no longer had valid planning permission.

Lord Stewart ruled in favour of the Royal Society for the protection of birds' (RSPB)'s claims that the consents granted in October 2014 by Scottish ministers were defective.

According to RSPB, the projects would have had ''serious implications'' for how bird and wildlife sites were protected across Scotland.

The Scottish government yesterday said it remained committed to offshore wind. With the ruling, all three wind farms are left without planning permission. This meant further uncertainty for the Contract for Difference (CfD) for Mainstream's Neart which had been in arbitration with the Low Carbon Contracts Company (LCCC) since earlier this year following LCCC's termination of the project's £114.39 CfD.

According to a statement from Mainstream, it "remains committed" to developing the wind farm.

"Neart na Gaoithe has the potential to make a significant contribution to both the Scottish and Westminster governments' commitment to climate change and to an improved environment which is the vision of so many people and organisations," said the statement.

RSPB Scotland lawyers argued that the Scottish ministers were in breach of the requirements the law had placed on them when they made their original decisions.

According to the lawyers, the ministers failed to  give proper consideration to the area being a haven for rare wildlife.

Lord Stewart ordered that the Scottish ministers would need to reconsider the decisions on whether to grant planning permissions for the developments.

Their new decision would need to address legal points brought out in court by the RSPB Scotland team.

In a statement, RSPB Scotland said that the legal challenge was a "last resort decision" which it had made "with great reluctance."

It said, "Unfortunately, consents were granted when thousands of gannets, puffins, kittiwakes and other seabirds from iconic internationally-protected wildlife sites like the Bass Rock and the Isle of May were predicted to be killed every year.