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Block on mega wind farm schemes lifted

Four major wind farms are to be built off the east coast of Scotland after a block on the schemes was lifted this week.

Scotland’s most senior judge, Lord Carloway, threw out a previous decision made by Outer House of the Court of Session to halt the projects.

A legal battle was launched by RSPB Scotland in January 2015 after four schemes were approved by Scottish ministers in October 2014.

Red Rock Power was given the nod for 213 turbines to be built through the Inch Cape Offshore project.

Mainstream Renewable Power was initially given permission to build the £2bn 125-turbine Neart Na Gaoithe offshore wind farm, which has since been reduced to 64 turbines.

Seagreen Wind Energy, a joint venture between SSE and Fluor, got the go-ahead for two sets of 75 wind turbines to be built.

However, RSPB Scotland launched legal challenges to the decisions, which covered the construction of 335 turbines in total.

The charity said the wind farms “posed too great a risk” to seabirds found in the areas of the proposed developments.

It was estimated tens of thousands of seabirds could be killed each year.

The Outer House of the Court of Session ruled against the wind farms in July 2016, stating consent for the schemes was not lawful.

However, Scottish ministers appealed the decision and Lord Carloway has now paved the way for the schemes to be built.

Mainstream Renewable Power offshore manager for Scotland David Sweenie said the company welcomes the decision.

He said: “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 £540m will be directly invested into Scotland during the construction phase and a further £610m during the operational phase.”

Red Rock Power also welcomed the decision for the development to go ahead.

A spokesperson for the company said: “Red Rock Power acknowledges the important and continued role that RSPB has in protecting our internationally important wildlife.

“We will therefore continue to work collaboratively with the RSPB and all stakeholders to refine the project design to ensure that the project can be delivered while minimising environmental impacts.”

However, RSPB Scotland director Stuart Housden said the charity is “hugely disappointed” with the decision, stating the scheme could be “one of the most deadly wind farms in the world”.

He said: “While we fully support deployment of renewable energy, this must not be at any cost.

“Combined, these four huge projects threaten to kill thousands of Scotland’s internationally protected seabirds every year, including thousands of puffins, gannets and kittiwakes.”

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