Lord Stewart, following an 8 day hearing, has quashed approvals in respect of four large offshore windfarms off the east coast of Scotland accepting the challenge of RSPB, who were concerned as to the impact on sea birds.
The proposal was for up to 335 turbines generating up to 2.3 GW and the turbines would have stretched some 45km north to south. He upheld challenges based on the EIA and Habitats regimes in four separate Opinions, the main one running to 380 paragraphs. The petition was opposed by Scottish Ministers and by three windfarm operators (one had split their proposal in two, hence the quashing of four approvals).
In a very detailed Opinion Lord Stewart accepted in large part the submissions of the RSPB both as to law and as to the appropriate factual analysis. The case will have a significant impact both in terms of the sheer scale of the proposals which have been quashed but also in terms of his detailed legal analysis of the various steps required before approval of such proposals can be forthcoming. It is not known whether it will be appealed.
James Findlay QC acted for RSPB.
The case has been reported on by the BBC, The Scotsman and the Daily Express.