Energy chiefs seek action on major off-shore wind farm

Bass Rock in the Forth is home to thousands of sea birds which the RSPB say could be affected. Picture: Jane Barlow

Bass Rock in the Forth is home to thousands of sea birds which the RSPB say could be affected. Picture: Jane Barlow

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Renewables giants are demanding urgent action from Scottish ministers to resolve a legal action threatening plans for a major wind farm off the Fife coast.

Senior executives of Mainstream, Marubeni, Europower, Siemens and InterGen have expressed their disappointment at a judicial review taken against the Neart na Gaoithe offshore power station by the RSPB.

RSPB Scotland will continue to resist any projects which threaten Scotland’s best places for wildlife

Lloyd Austin

In a letter to The Scotsman (see below), they say the project will create hundreds of jobs and call on the Scottish Government to urgently set out what steps it intends to take next.

Earlier this month the RSPB won a legal action against the decision by Scottish ministers to allow four large offshore wind farms, including Neart na Gaoithe, to be erected in the outer firths of the Forth and Tay. Many environmentalists had welcomed the plans but RSPB Scotland argued their impact on seabirds would be too great.

A petition for judicial review of the decision has been granted by Lord Stewart after hearings at the Court of Session in Edinburgh.

In their letter, the renewables’ executives said: “It is now for Scottish ministers urgently to set out how they will address the result of the judicial review positively to ensure the opportunity is grasped, and to work with us and our partners to ensure that this nationally significant project is properly consented and brought into operation in the very near term.

“The global energy industry is watching how Scotland’s Government acts over the coming days.”

Lloyd Austin, RSPB head of policy, said: “Whilst RSPB Scotland will continue to robustly resist any projects which threaten Scotland’s best places for wildlife we also remain resolutely supportive of the development of ­renewable energy sources in Scotland.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Scottish ministers are in the process of considering Lord Stewart’s judgement and its implications and are actively seeking a course of action and outcome that optimises the potential for Scotland’s wind industry and our renewable energy ambitions.”

LETTER TO THE SCOTSMAN

Our companies, Mainstream, Marubeni Europower, Siemens and InterGen, share a common interest in the successful development of the Neart na Gaoithe (NnG) offshore wind power station, one of the four offshore wind projects whose consent by Scottish ministers was successfully challenged in the Court of Session by the RSPB. Those projects represent a potential capital investment into Scotland of £8 billion – more than £3,000 per home.

NnG is a £2bn capital infrastructure project that is of national significance. It will play a key role in delivering the Scottish Government’s target of 100 per cent of Scotland’s electricity from renewable sources by 2020, and the wider climate and energy objectives of the UK government.

It will create hundreds of jobs during its construction and operation and it will generate significant local economic impact across the country, in particular on the east coast from Dundee to Eyemouth. NnG will also provide the lowest-cost energy from any offshore wind farm yet granted consent – sufficient to power a city the size of Edinburgh.

We are global companies with energy businesses on every continent. We see Scotland as having the potential to be a leading international market for offshore wind. We have invested in Scotland as we believe it should be an ideal location to deliver large-scale offshore renewables given its skilled employees, expertise in the power industry, and its natural high wind speeds. It is for these reasons that the judicial review decision is so disappointing.

As sponsors of this project, we have done our part to create a new global industry in Scotland, one that will help the country meet its ambitious climate and energy goals, and create further jobs in the energy industry. Throughout the development phase we have worked closely with the RSPB and other environmental stakeholders. This constructive dialogue will continue.

It is now for Scottish ministers urgently to set out how they will address the result of the judicial review positively to ensure the opportunity is grasped, and to work with us and our partners to ensure that this nationally significant project is properly consented and brought into operation in the very near term. Doing so will reassure investors that Scotland is still a destination for inward investment.

The global energy industry is watching how Scotland’s government acts over the coming days.

Andy Kinsella, executive director and group chief operating officer, Mainstream Renewable Power

Wolfgang Bischoff, head of EMEA project & structured finance – energy, Siemens

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