A judicial ruling on a proposed 103-turbine wind farm in the Shetland islands (pictured) could deal a blow to other renewable energy projects in Scotland.
The review of the Scottish Government’s approval for the Viking Energy project was held following a challenge from environmental protest group Sustainable Shetlands.
As well as ruling it had fallen fowl of an EU directive on wild birds, Lady Clark of Carlton said the wind farm didn’t meet the requirements of an obscure part of the Electricity Act 1989.
She said Schedule 9 in Section 36 of the act required companies to obtain an electricity generating licence from Ofgem before applying to get consent for a project over 50MW.
There are currently 32 wind projects with a combined total capacity of 3.8 GW which have received consent from the Scottish government. As Scotland’s current wind capacity totals 4.1GW of onshore and 190 MW of offshore wind, the proposed projects have the potential to nearly double the nation’s wind capacity.
However the ruling has thrown the future of many of these projects into doubt. As it wasn’t seen as a requirement beforehand, many don’t have a generating license.
A further 53 applications for consent are also outstanding, with only eight known to have a generating licence.
A spokesperson for the Scottish Government said: “Scottish Ministers have decided to appeal the judgement and will lodge that appeal in the days ahead.
“Ministers do not agree that the application was incompetent under Schedule 9 of the Electricity Act, nor do they agree that they failed to take proper account of their obligations in under the EU Wild Birds Directive in the decision making process.”
Paul Minto, an energy partner at law firm HBJ Gateley said: “When the Electricity Act was introduced there were only the Big Six energy producers burning oil, coal and gas, along with nuclear energy but with the advent of renewable energy an entire new industry has evolved with smaller energy generation companies emerging. The larger wind, wave, tidal and hydro projects will be caught by this decision.
“For the time being this decision poses a threat and additional costs to the newly emerging renewables industry.”
A recent report found Scotland faced an uphill battle to meet its renewable targets for 2020.