A controversial £2 billion wind farm development could generate around £827 million for the Scottish economy, a study has found.
Analysis suggests that over its 30 year lifetime, the Neart na Gaoithe (NnG) project could generate an economic impact equivalent to 0.6 per cent of Scotland’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2016.
The study also found it could support 13,900 “person years” of employment over its lifetime - the equivalent of around 2,000 Scottish jobs for every year of construction and 236 for every year of operation.
Developers Mainstream Renewable Power commissioned the research from the independent Fraser of Allander Institute at the University of Strathclyde.
It follows the RSPB applying to the Supreme Court for permission to appeal against the development, which the conservation charity believes could lead to major declines in the population of gannets, puffins and kittiwakes.
The move is the next stage in a legal battle that has been ongoing since the Scottish Government gave consent to four major wind farms in the Firth of Forth and the Firth of Tay in 2014.
Andy Kinsella, chief operating officer at Mainstream Renewable Power, said: “The results of the Fraser of Allander Institute’s study show the full extent of NnG’s impact on the Scottish economy for the first time.
“The study confirms that NnG will support the creation or retention of large numbers of high skilled, high quality jobs in Scotland during construction and its 25 year operational lifetime.
“The NnG Offshore Wind Farm Coalition, launched this month, has called on RSPB Scotland to abandon its legal action challenging this project and three others.
“Today’s report shows the full extent of the economic benefit to Scotland put at risk by this ongoing action. I would ask RSPB Scotland to listen to this call and allow the project to move forward into construction.”
On making the Supreme Court application, RSPB Scotland director Anne McCall said: “RSPB Scotland has not taken this decision lightly, however our concerns with the manner in which Scottish Ministers’ took their decisions in 2014 remain undiminished.
“Additionally, the issues of the case and the recent Inner House judgement extend beyond simply the impacts of these developments on important seabird populations.
“Therefore due to the implications of this latest decision for many aspects of our work we felt we had no choice but to apply to the Supreme Court.
“We are hopeful that our application is successful and that we are granted leave to appeal so these important issues of public interest can be considered in detail by the Supreme Court.”