Wind farm owner takes Alfred McAlpine Business Services to court over milestone payments, after losing £2.8m arbitration award
The owner of a newly opened wind farm in Scotland is headed for a High Court showdown with Alfred McAlpine Business Services Ltd.
Braes of Doune Wind Farm, owned by Braes of Doune Wind Farm (Scotland) Ltd, provides 72 megawatts of electricity from 36 wind turbines, was opened a year ago near Dunblane and has the capacity to power 45,000 homes.
McAlpine won the contract to design, build and commission the wind farm, which is equivalent to two coal fired power stations, but disputes arose between the two sides and they took their differences to arbitration last August.
McAlpine argued that Braes was not entitled to withhold milestone payments and claimed damages of £3.4m.
The arbitrator reached a decision on 17 December 2007, in which he ruled that Braes was not entitled to keep liquidated damages, and decided that McAlpine’s counterclaim should be paid.
McAlpine was awarded £2.8m plus VAT and Braes was order to pay interest at 1.5% above base rates.
According to a High Court writ, Braes is now seeking leave to appeal. It wants the court to decide if the contract was so uncertain as to be unenforceable, or if it was entitled to withhold delay damages against money otherwise due to McAlpine.
Braes is also asking if McAlpine was entitled to an award in respect of the withheld liquidated damages.
Braes argues that the arbitrator’s decisions on the questions of law were obviously wrong and says that his decisions flowed from his misconstruction of words referring to the totally installed capacity for the plant.
The wind farm was officially opened by Alistair Darling. It is run by Airtricity. The wind turbines were designed by Vestas-Celtic Wind Technology and built by Vestas-Celtic and Alfred McAlpine.
By Chloë McCulloch
14 February 2008