For the best part of the last nine years, RSPB Scotland has been providing expert scientific advice to try and help these offshore wind projects avoid majorly harming Scotland's internationally renowned seabird colonies. Unfortunately, despite a number of changes, the projects were still predicted to have the potential to kill tens of thousands of seabirds over their lifetimes when they were consented in October 2014. With great reluctance, and having explored all our other options, we initiated a legal challenge in January 2015. We were initially successful with this challenge in the Outer House of the Court of Session (we blogged about that decision here) but Scottish Ministers decided to appeal. The decision on that appeal to the Inner House of the Court of Session has been announced today.
In response to today's ruling by the Inner House, Stuart Housden, Director RSPB Scotland, said: "RSPB Scotland is, of course, hugely disappointed by today's Inner House judgment. Whilst we fully support deployment of renewable energy, this must not be at any cost. Combined, these four huge projects threaten to kill thousands of Scotland's internationally protected seabirds every year, including thousands of puffins, gannets and kittiwakes. These could be amongst the most deadly windfarms for birds anywhere in the world. It was with great reluctance and as a last resort, but in these circumstances, it was clear that RSPB Scotland had to make a stand. While we are deeply disappointed with today's decision, given the huge threat to Scotland's wildlife from these projects, we do not regret our actions so far. We will now need to take some time to consider this judgment in detail and consider its wider implications before commenting further."
Climate change is a major threat to birds and wildlife and RSPB Scotland is therefore a major supporter of renewable energy, including offshore renewables. When good projects come forward that do not threaten wildlife, we are happy to support them, such as this recent innovative proposal for floating wind. However, developments must be sited to minimise impacts on the natural environment. Last year we also launched the results of a major research project which showed how Scotland and the UK could tackle climate change whilst minimising impacts on nature.
RSPB Scotland will continue to support well sited renewable projects but we will also stand up for nature when projects pose major threats to Scotland's wildlife.