Mainstream anger at court challenge to £2bn wind farm

A coalition of firms working on a 450MW project has warned the RSPB its Supreme Court move could divert investment elsewhere.

Mainstream Renewable Power has called on the UK-based charity Royal Society for the Protection of Birds to respect “legal due process” after it revealed its intention to head to the UK’s Supreme Court to block the developer’s offshore wind project in Scotland.

The charity has informed Mainstream it plans to ask the Supreme Court in London for permission to lodge a further appeal against the £2 billion ($2.6 billion; €2.2 billion) Neart na Gaoithe (NnG) site off the east coast of Scotland, stating that it “had no choice” but to launch the latest challenge.

While the RSPB was successful with a bid against the 450MW wind farm in July last year, a Scottish judge overturned the challenge in May, stating that the judge in the original ruling “strayed well beyond the limits” of the legal process. Scotland’s Inner House of the Court of Session rejected a request by the RSPB last month to appeal the latest decision, resulting in the organisation taking the case to the UK’s highest court.

Mainstream has formed a 29-strong coalition of companies working on the project across the supply chain, warning the RSPB to “recognise the serious social, economic and environmental consequences” of its decision, adding that “Scotland can ill-afford to lose out” on what it says is the only major infrastructure project that is ready to be built in the country next year.

“While we are sympathetic to the concerns of the RSPB about the planning process, this is about real people, real jobs and real environmental benefit. Scotland cannot afford to put nationally significant infrastructure projects like NnG at risk,” said Alan Duncan, a spokesman for the coalition. “We strongly believe that the output of the legal due process should be respected and we call on the RSPB to abandon their appeal to the Supreme Court and agree to work with us to deliver this exciting project of huge importance to Scotland.”

NnG is backed by the UK government, having secured a contract-for-difference with a strike price of £114.39 per MWh in 2012 prices, a subsidy which it had to fight for this year amid wrangling over missed deadlines.

The 600MW Inch Cape offshore wind farm owned by China’s State Development & Investment Corporation and the 1GW Seagreen project being developed by SSE and Fluor are also subject to the RSPB’s challenge and the previous court decisions, although the firms are not part of Mainstream’s coalition.