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Ruling blow for windfarms

Windfarms in Tayside, Fife and Forth Valley could be ruled illegal following a landmark ruling, according to anti-turbine campaigners.

A judge decided the Scottish Government failed to take proper account of its obligations under European nature legislation when it gave the go-ahead for a major Shetland windfarm.

Lady Clark of Calton sided with protest group Sustainable Shetland, which launched a judicial review of a decision to approve Viking Energy’s plans for 103 turbines because they were concerned about rare birds.

She decided that ministers had not meaningfully engaged with the EC Birds Directive in making their decision to grant consent.

It later emerged that the judge also ruled that the windfarm was legally incompetent under UK legislation because the developers had no Ofgem licence.

Lady Clark referred to the 1989 Electricity Act, which requires windfarm developers to have the licence unless they have a specific exemption from the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

A group of climate change deniers seized on this, suggesting it paves the way for challenges to existing windfarm developments across the country.

Mike Haseler, chairman of Scottish Climate and Energy Forum, said: “The implication is serious. It appears to mean that many windfarms in Scotland have been erected illegally, showing a disregard by the Scottish Government for the law.”

Graham Lang, chairman of national anti-windfarm alliance, Scotland Against Spin, also slammed the SNP government’s green agenda.

He said: “Scotland is being besieged by speculative windfarm applications which are time-consuming and expensive for local planning departments, and increasingly unpopular with the communities they threaten.”

Energy minister Fergus Ewing granted consent for the Shetland windfarm in April last year but his decision was overturned at the Court of Session on September 25.

The Courier understands that Scottish Government lawyers are readying an appeal which could be lodged as early as Monday.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for Viking Energy said the firm may yet resubmit their original application if they secure an electricity generating licence.