For the birds! RSPB in new offshore wind battle

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Richard Heap
August 18, 2017
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This content is from our archive. Some formatting or links may be broken.
For the birds! RSPB in new offshore wind battle

Don’t annoy the twitchers. The firms behind four offshore wind projects in Scotland are well aware of how the bird protection lobby can delay schemes, and received a fresh reminder last week. I’m sure you are also aware of this long-running legal battle.

Three years ago, the Scottish government have planning consent for four projects totalling 2.3GW. They are Red Rock Power’s 784MW Inch Cape; SSE and Fluor’s 525MW Seagreen Alpha and 525MW Seagreen Bravo; and Mainstream Renewable Power’s 448MW Neart na Gaoithe. The RSPB argued Scottish ministers hadn’t properly considered the impact of these schemes on seabirds and launched legal action.

At first it was successful. In July 2016, the Outer House of the Court of Session in Scotland ruled there were flaws in how ministers had awarded consent, and so quashed their planning Consents. After this, Scottish ministers appealed the verdict and won their appeal in May, which meant that planning permission was reinstated.

And the RSPB lost another battle last month when the Inner House of the Court of Session in Scotland, the country’s highest court, decided that it had no basis for a further appeal. The RSPB argued that it still had concerns about the way Scottish ministers reached their original decision in 2014, but the court refused it the right to appeal. It said it was up to ministers to make these decisions.

It appeared that the dispute was at an end and that the developers could progress their projects, but not so. Last week, the RSPB said it would take its fight to the UK’s Supreme Court because it still had concerns about the potential impact on birds, and the way that consent was granted. It wants to change the original decision.

We are doubtful about whether the Supreme Court would allow such an appeal. The matter has been considered at length by the Scottish courts, and caused major delays to these four projects. Those courts decided that the ministers were not in the wrong, and were acting on the basis of their government’s stated ambition to support offshore wind. The RSPB has lost that argument.

And, for the good of the industry, we hope the Supreme Court dismisses the appeal. One of those four projects, Neart na Gaoithe, is ready to go and a further court case could delay construction by one more year. A group of suppliers have argued that a new legal fight would have effects including putting 600 jobs at risk.

The group, the NnG Offshore Wind Farm Coalition, argued that
the £2bn wind farm would generate £540m revenue for Scottish businesses; could help Scotland to cut its carbon emissions; and provide enough power for a city the size of Edinburgh. Our only criticism here is the coalition did not go public earlier.

The RSPB's argument is also undermined by the fact that the potential harm of these projects to seabirds reduces year on year. Technological innovation in the wind sector since the ministers backed the projects in 2014 means that Neart na Gaoithe would now need a maximum of 64 turbines compared to the 125 when it won approval – a fall of almost 50% – and we expect a similar fall across all four schemes, from their combined 335 back in 2014.

This means the RSPB’s estimate of bird deaths is out of date. The British Trust of Ornithology has estimated that Neart na Gaoithe would harm, at most, hundreds of birds. The RSPB is not focusing on that. It simply wants to hold up the process.

We would urge the charity to accept the verdict of the Scottish courts and work with the developers and contractors. It will find an open door, as those firms want to reduce bird deaths too. Their businesses suffer if their projects are seen as killing machines.

The obstacle for these firms working with the RSPB is the charity now seems to want to delay projects by any means necessary. It is now seen as an ideological opponent of offshore wind. And that makes it tougher for it to influence the companies is has to, and only serves to make the twitchers a little more twitchy.

%MCEPASTEBIN%

Don’t annoy the twitchers. The firms behind four offshore wind projects in Scotland are well aware of how the bird protection lobby can delay schemes, and received a fresh reminder last week. I’m sure you are also aware of this long-running legal battle.

Three years ago, the Scottish government have planning consent for four projects totalling 2.3GW. They are Red Rock Power’s 784MW Inch Cape; SSE and Fluor’s 525MW Seagreen Alpha and 525MW Seagreen Bravo; and Mainstream Renewable Power’s 448MW Neart na Gaoithe. The RSPB argued Scottish ministers hadn’t properly considered the impact of these schemes on seabirds and launched legal action.

At first it was successful. In July 2016, the Outer House of the Court of Session in Scotland ruled there were flaws in how ministers had awarded consent, and so quashed their planning Consents. After this, Scottish ministers appealed the verdict and won their appeal in May, which meant that planning permission was reinstated.

And the RSPB lost another battle last month when the Inner House of the Court of Session in Scotland, the country’s highest court, decided that it had no basis for a further appeal. The RSPB argued that it still had concerns about the way Scottish ministers reached their original decision in 2014, but the court refused it the right to appeal. It said it was up to ministers to make these decisions.

It appeared that the dispute was at an end and that the developers could progress their projects, but not so. Last week, the RSPB said it would take its fight to the UK’s Supreme Court because it still had concerns about the potential impact on birds, and the way that consent was granted. It wants to change the original decision.

We are doubtful about whether the Supreme Court would allow such an appeal. The matter has been considered at length by the Scottish courts, and caused major delays to these four projects. Those courts decided that the ministers were not in the wrong, and were acting on the basis of their government’s stated ambition to support offshore wind. The RSPB has lost that argument.

And, for the good of the industry, we hope the Supreme Court dismisses the appeal. One of those four projects, Neart na Gaoithe, is ready to go and a further court case could delay construction by one more year. A group of suppliers have argued that a new legal fight would have effects including putting 600 jobs at risk.

The group, the NnG Offshore Wind Farm Coalition, argued that
the £2bn wind farm would generate £540m revenue for Scottish businesses; could help Scotland to cut its carbon emissions; and provide enough power for a city the size of Edinburgh. Our only criticism here is the coalition did not go public earlier.

The RSPB's argument is also undermined by the fact that the potential harm of these projects to seabirds reduces year on year. Technological innovation in the wind sector since the ministers backed the projects in 2014 means that Neart na Gaoithe would now need a maximum of 64 turbines compared to the 125 when it won approval – a fall of almost 50% – and we expect a similar fall across all four schemes, from their combined 335 back in 2014.

This means the RSPB’s estimate of bird deaths is out of date. The British Trust of Ornithology has estimated that Neart na Gaoithe would harm, at most, hundreds of birds. The RSPB is not focusing on that. It simply wants to hold up the process.

We would urge the charity to accept the verdict of the Scottish courts and work with the developers and contractors. It will find an open door, as those firms want to reduce bird deaths too. Their businesses suffer if their projects are seen as killing machines.

The obstacle for these firms working with the RSPB is the charity now seems to want to delay projects by any means necessary. It is now seen as an ideological opponent of offshore wind. And that makes it tougher for it to influence the companies is has to, and only serves to make the twitchers a little more twitchy.

%MCEPASTEBIN%

Don’t annoy the twitchers. The firms behind four offshore wind projects in Scotland are well aware of how the bird protection lobby can delay schemes, and received a fresh reminder last week. I’m sure you are also aware of this long-running legal battle.

Three years ago, the Scottish government have planning consent for four projects totalling 2.3GW. They are Red Rock Power’s 784MW Inch Cape; SSE and Fluor’s 525MW Seagreen Alpha and 525MW Seagreen Bravo; and Mainstream Renewable Power’s 448MW Neart na Gaoithe. The RSPB argued Scottish ministers hadn’t properly considered the impact of these schemes on seabirds and launched legal action.

At first it was successful. In July 2016, the Outer House of the Court of Session in Scotland ruled there were flaws in how ministers had awarded consent, and so quashed their planning Consents. After this, Scottish ministers appealed the verdict and won their appeal in May, which meant that planning permission was reinstated.

And the RSPB lost another battle last month when the Inner House of the Court of Session in Scotland, the country’s highest court, decided that it had no basis for a further appeal. The RSPB argued that it still had concerns about the way Scottish ministers reached their original decision in 2014, but the court refused it the right to appeal. It said it was up to ministers to make these decisions.

It appeared that the dispute was at an end and that the developers could progress their projects, but not so. Last week, the RSPB said it would take its fight to the UK’s Supreme Court because it still had concerns about the potential impact on birds, and the way that consent was granted. It wants to change the original decision.

We are doubtful about whether the Supreme Court would allow such an appeal. The matter has been considered at length by the Scottish courts, and caused major delays to these four projects. Those courts decided that the ministers were not in the wrong, and were acting on the basis of their government’s stated ambition to support offshore wind. The RSPB has lost that argument.

And, for the good of the industry, we hope the Supreme Court dismisses the appeal. One of those four projects, Neart na Gaoithe, is ready to go and a further court case could delay construction by one more year. A group of suppliers have argued that a new legal fight would have effects including putting 600 jobs at risk.

The group, the NnG Offshore Wind Farm Coalition, argued that
the £2bn wind farm would generate £540m revenue for Scottish businesses; could help Scotland to cut its carbon emissions; and provide enough power for a city the size of Edinburgh. Our only criticism here is the coalition did not go public earlier.

The RSPB's argument is also undermined by the fact that the potential harm of these projects to seabirds reduces year on year. Technological innovation in the wind sector since the ministers backed the projects in 2014 means that Neart na Gaoithe would now need a maximum of 64 turbines compared to the 125 when it won approval – a fall of almost 50% – and we expect a similar fall across all four schemes, from their combined 335 back in 2014.

This means the RSPB’s estimate of bird deaths is out of date. The British Trust of Ornithology has estimated that Neart na Gaoithe would harm, at most, hundreds of birds. The RSPB is not focusing on that. It simply wants to hold up the process.

We would urge the charity to accept the verdict of the Scottish courts and work with the developers and contractors. It will find an open door, as those firms want to reduce bird deaths too. Their businesses suffer if their projects are seen as killing machines.

The obstacle for these firms working with the RSPB is the charity now seems to want to delay projects by any means necessary. It is now seen as an ideological opponent of offshore wind. And that makes it tougher for it to influence the companies is has to, and only serves to make the twitchers a little more twitchy.

%MCEPASTEBIN%

Don’t annoy the twitchers. The firms behind four offshore wind projects in Scotland are well aware of how the bird protection lobby can delay schemes, and received a fresh reminder last week. I’m sure you are also aware of this long-running legal battle.

Three years ago, the Scottish government have planning consent for four projects totalling 2.3GW. They are Red Rock Power’s 784MW Inch Cape; SSE and Fluor’s 525MW Seagreen Alpha and 525MW Seagreen Bravo; and Mainstream Renewable Power’s 448MW Neart na Gaoithe. The RSPB argued Scottish ministers hadn’t properly considered the impact of these schemes on seabirds and launched legal action.

At first it was successful. In July 2016, the Outer House of the Court of Session in Scotland ruled there were flaws in how ministers had awarded consent, and so quashed their planning Consents. After this, Scottish ministers appealed the verdict and won their appeal in May, which meant that planning permission was reinstated.

And the RSPB lost another battle last month when the Inner House of the Court of Session in Scotland, the country’s highest court, decided that it had no basis for a further appeal. The RSPB argued that it still had concerns about the way Scottish ministers reached their original decision in 2014, but the court refused it the right to appeal. It said it was up to ministers to make these decisions.

It appeared that the dispute was at an end and that the developers could progress their projects, but not so. Last week, the RSPB said it would take its fight to the UK’s Supreme Court because it still had concerns about the potential impact on birds, and the way that consent was granted. It wants to change the original decision.

We are doubtful about whether the Supreme Court would allow such an appeal. The matter has been considered at length by the Scottish courts, and caused major delays to these four projects. Those courts decided that the ministers were not in the wrong, and were acting on the basis of their government’s stated ambition to support offshore wind. The RSPB has lost that argument.

And, for the good of the industry, we hope the Supreme Court dismisses the appeal. One of those four projects, Neart na Gaoithe, is ready to go and a further court case could delay construction by one more year. A group of suppliers have argued that a new legal fight would have effects including putting 600 jobs at risk.

The group, the NnG Offshore Wind Farm Coalition, argued that
the £2bn wind farm would generate £540m revenue for Scottish businesses; could help Scotland to cut its carbon emissions; and provide enough power for a city the size of Edinburgh. Our only criticism here is the coalition did not go public earlier.

The RSPB's argument is also undermined by the fact that the potential harm of these projects to seabirds reduces year on year. Technological innovation in the wind sector since the ministers backed the projects in 2014 means that Neart na Gaoithe would now need a maximum of 64 turbines compared to the 125 when it won approval – a fall of almost 50% – and we expect a similar fall across all four schemes, from their combined 335 back in 2014.

This means the RSPB’s estimate of bird deaths is out of date. The British Trust of Ornithology has estimated that Neart na Gaoithe would harm, at most, hundreds of birds. The RSPB is not focusing on that. It simply wants to hold up the process.

We would urge the charity to accept the verdict of the Scottish courts and work with the developers and contractors. It will find an open door, as those firms want to reduce bird deaths too. Their businesses suffer if their projects are seen as killing machines.

The obstacle for these firms working with the RSPB is the charity now seems to want to delay projects by any means necessary. It is now seen as an ideological opponent of offshore wind. And that makes it tougher for it to influence the companies is has to, and only serves to make the twitchers a little more twitchy.

%MCEPASTEBIN%

Don’t annoy the twitchers. The firms behind four offshore wind projects in Scotland are well aware of how the bird protection lobby can delay schemes, and received a fresh reminder last week. I’m sure you are also aware of this long-running legal battle.

Three years ago, the Scottish government have planning consent for four projects totalling 2.3GW. They are Red Rock Power’s 784MW Inch Cape; SSE and Fluor’s 525MW Seagreen Alpha and 525MW Seagreen Bravo; and Mainstream Renewable Power’s 448MW Neart na Gaoithe. The RSPB argued Scottish ministers hadn’t properly considered the impact of these schemes on seabirds and launched legal action.

At first it was successful. In July 2016, the Outer House of the Court of Session in Scotland ruled there were flaws in how ministers had awarded consent, and so quashed their planning Consents. After this, Scottish ministers appealed the verdict and won their appeal in May, which meant that planning permission was reinstated.

And the RSPB lost another battle last month when the Inner House of the Court of Session in Scotland, the country’s highest court, decided that it had no basis for a further appeal. The RSPB argued that it still had concerns about the way Scottish ministers reached their original decision in 2014, but the court refused it the right to appeal. It said it was up to ministers to make these decisions.

It appeared that the dispute was at an end and that the developers could progress their projects, but not so. Last week, the RSPB said it would take its fight to the UK’s Supreme Court because it still had concerns about the potential impact on birds, and the way that consent was granted. It wants to change the original decision.

We are doubtful about whether the Supreme Court would allow such an appeal. The matter has been considered at length by the Scottish courts, and caused major delays to these four projects. Those courts decided that the ministers were not in the wrong, and were acting on the basis of their government’s stated ambition to support offshore wind. The RSPB has lost that argument.

And, for the good of the industry, we hope the Supreme Court dismisses the appeal. One of those four projects, Neart na Gaoithe, is ready to go and a further court case could delay construction by one more year. A group of suppliers have argued that a new legal fight would have effects including putting 600 jobs at risk.

The group, the NnG Offshore Wind Farm Coalition, argued that
the £2bn wind farm would generate £540m revenue for Scottish businesses; could help Scotland to cut its carbon emissions; and provide enough power for a city the size of Edinburgh. Our only criticism here is the coalition did not go public earlier.

The RSPB's argument is also undermined by the fact that the potential harm of these projects to seabirds reduces year on year. Technological innovation in the wind sector since the ministers backed the projects in 2014 means that Neart na Gaoithe would now need a maximum of 64 turbines compared to the 125 when it won approval – a fall of almost 50% – and we expect a similar fall across all four schemes, from their combined 335 back in 2014.

This means the RSPB’s estimate of bird deaths is out of date. The British Trust of Ornithology has estimated that Neart na Gaoithe would harm, at most, hundreds of birds. The RSPB is not focusing on that. It simply wants to hold up the process.

We would urge the charity to accept the verdict of the Scottish courts and work with the developers and contractors. It will find an open door, as those firms want to reduce bird deaths too. Their businesses suffer if their projects are seen as killing machines.

The obstacle for these firms working with the RSPB is the charity now seems to want to delay projects by any means necessary. It is now seen as an ideological opponent of offshore wind. And that makes it tougher for it to influence the companies is has to, and only serves to make the twitchers a little more twitchy.

%MCEPASTEBIN%

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Not a member yet?

Become a member of the 6,500-strong A Word About Wind community today, and gain access to our premium content, exclusive lead generation and investment opportunities.