Court ruling over windfarm could have knock-on effect for renewables industry

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A court decision to block a massive Scottish windfarm development may have huge repercussions for the country’s energy renewables industry.

Judge Lady Clark of Calton yesterday found that the developers involved did not have an electricity generating licence.

It is a ruling which could pose problems for the wider renewables industry as other developers may have been granted consent without such a licence.

The Scottish Government last night said they intend to appeal the Court of Session ruling on the Viking Development in Shetland.

Long-standing opponent of windfarms Peter Argyle, councillor for Aboyne, Upper Deeside and Donside, said last night: “Aberdeenshire Council currently has more than 1,000 turbines in the area that have been consented.

“Logically, if this ruling becomes established, it will set a clear precedent on windfarm planning policies. In view of the number of applications, it may have implications in Aberdeenshire and other places.”

Lady Clark of Calton yesterday set aside the consent granted to the 103 Viking turbine development by Scottish ministers in April last year, following a judicial review brought by anti-Viking campaign group Sustainable Shetland.

Lady Clark held that the decision to allow the windfarm to be built was “incompetent” because the Viking Energy Partnership did not have an electricity generating licence.

She also said ministers failed to take proper regard of the European Wild Birds Directive, relating specifically to whimbrel, a rare species of wader with 295 breeding pairs in Shetland who form 95% of the UK population.

The court also ordered Scottish ministers to pay £60,000 of Sustainable Shetland’s legal expenses. Shortly after the announcement, the Scottish government said they would appeal against the judgement in the next few days.

This is the first time that a judicial review of a wind farm development in Scotland has been upheld.

Sustainable Shetland chairman Frank Hay said the group was “heartened” by the outcome, saying it reflected months of hard work by all concerned.