Business coalition attacks charity over windfarm campaign

Puffinweb

Companies say a conservation charity's legal action against a windfarm development is costing the Scottish economy dear

16th August 2017 by Robert Armour 1 Comment

Energy firms and other private companies have rounded on RSPB Scotland through a series of full-page adverts in mainstream newspapers.

A coalition of 29 companies have used the ads to call on the charity to drop an appeal it lodged against a ruling last year which gave the green light for a £2 billion windfarm development to be built off the east coast of Scotland.

The charity says the development could put the lives of thousands of seabirds at risk and argues the government failed to carry out a robust enough environmental assessment before giving consent.

RSPB this week applied for permission to appeal at the Supreme Court in a further bid to stop the massive development. 

The project, first planned 10 years ago, was given consent by the Scottish Government in 2014 and has been in the courts ever since.

A full-page advertisement in national newspapers today (16 August) says that the RSPB’s action would further delay the project and endangers the creation of 600 jobs.

The wind farm’s developer, Mainstream Renewable Power, said that it estimates the development would bring an additional £610 million in revenue into the regional economy.

The coalition includes CS Wind UK, Eyemouth Harbour Trust, GeoSea, James Fisher Marine Services, Montrose Marine Services, Xero Energy and SeaRoc Group.

Alan Duncan, a spokesman for the coalition, said: “We have come together to call on RSPB Scotland to recognise the serious social, economic and environmental consequences of ignoring the advice of the Inner House of Scotland’s Court of Session and continuing to appeal this decision.

“Hundreds of families in communities across the east of Scotland will be directly affected should this project not go ahead. Highly-skilled jobs, vital apprenticeships and the socio-economic benefits of this project are all at risk for the hard-pressed communities within the region.

“This is about real people, real jobs and real environmental benefit. Scotland cannot afford to put nationally significant infrastructure projects at risk.”

This is about real people, real jobs and real environmental benefit - Alan Duncan

The RSPB argues that Scottish ministers were wrong to approve the scheme, which would set a precident for further windfarm developments that could threaten wildlife. In particular, if three other offshore developments were also given the go-ahead, they could lead to a “major decline in sea-bird populations”.

According to the charity the 64 turbines would threaten kittiwakes, puffins and gannets. This was the conculsion of the government's own environmental assesment at the time, although it was disputed by other sources. 

Anne McCall, director, RSPB Scotland said the charity is supportive of windfarm developments providing they don't interfere with wildlife. 

“We have not taken this decision lightly, however our concerns with the manner in which Scottish ministers’ took their decisions in 2014 remain undiminished," she said.

“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.”

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24th August 2017 by Scottish Scientist

The Scottish Government could tell RSPB that if they do not end this legal action then the Scottish Government will reduce funding of Scottish National Heritage (SNH) with a view to impacting on SNH's ability to combat some of the pressures on seabirds, including the control of predators, such as brown rats and American mink, along the Scottish coast and on islands.The Scottish Government ought to make RSPB face up to the consequences of insisting on further hated legal action which would definitely increase the prospects of revenge cuts to SNH and much greater harm to the "world-leading breeding grounds" for sea-birds if there was an explosion in the numbers of predators such as brown rats and American mink.Scots are prepared to compromise but we are not prepared to have our economy ruined by bird-watchers. You want to play hardball twitchers?