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Controversial plans to build a major windfarm off the coast of Aberdeen could be tied up in a legal battle lasting six years.
Energy Minister Fergus Ewing granted planning permission yesterday for the 11-turbine project in Aberdeen Bay – triggering a furious reaction from US businessman Donald Trump, who is building a £750million golf resort at the nearby Menie Estate.
The property developer’s legal team is now preparing to follow the strategy of campaigners who held up construction of the Aberdeen bypass through Scottish, UK and European courts.
One planning expert warned it could be six years before the legal wrangle was finally resolved.
Last night, Mr Trump confirmed that he was putting the rest of his golf course project on hold while he fought the “ridiculous” ruling.
“This was a purely political decision, as dictated by Alex Salmond, a man whose obsession with obsolete wind-technology will destroy the magnificence and beauty of Scotland,” he said.
“Likewise, tourism, Scotland’s biggest industry, will be ruined. We will spend what ever monies Continued from Page 1 are necessary tosee to it that these huge and unsightly industrial wind turbines are never constructed.”
His son, Don jun, confirmed that they would now lodge legal challenges at the Court of Session and then the UK Supreme Court, if they lost.
The move could hold the scheme up for three years – and a further appeal to the European courts could double the delay.
First Minister Alex Salmond – who has been the subject of several personal attacks by Mr Trump over the scheme – welcomed approval for the project.
He said: “People in the north-east of Scotland well understand the importance of a deployment centre. This is reflected in the 465 representations in support of the offshore proposal, compared to 148 against.”
Mr Ewing refused to speak to the Press and Journal yesterday but said in a statement: “The proposed European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre will give the industry the ability to test and demonstrate new technologies in order to accelerate its growth.”
“The centre will also generate up to 100MW, enough electricity to meet the needs of almost half the homes in Aberdeencity. It securesAberdeen’s place as the energy capital of Europe.
“In consenting this application, I have put in place a number of conditions to mitigate a range of impacts.”
One of 26 conditions is a “radar-mitigation scheme” to allay Ministry of Defence fears about interference. Mr Trump said the developers would “never meet those conditions”.
The companies behind the project – Vattenfall, Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group (Areg) and Technip – celebrated the government ruling last night.
However, they still face many other challenges before work can begin.
Majority partner Vattenfall, which has just announced plans to cut projects and axe 2,500 jobs, said a final decision on whether to invest in the scheme would not be made until next year.
A spokesman said: “Following consent, all the details will be reviewed and a delivery programme agreed which will lead to a final investment decision in 2014.
“The project partners are all committed to continuing to develop the scheme, securing consent for the onshore works and looking forward to first power in late 2015.”
The developers also still face a battle to win permission to build a substation to bring the power ashore.
Councillors postponed consideration of the substation yesterday amid fears of the impact it could have on a village.
Residents at Blackdog claim their village has been used as a “dumping ground” for years – and that placing the large substation there is a step too far.
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