It’s a little ironic that the very organisation that perpetually puts back plans to develop wind turbines has built one itself.
OK, hands up - that’s just a childish attempt to get a sneaky dig at a very important and influential charity – the RSPB.
It has not tried to hide the wind turbine which it built and in fact defends it, quite rightly, on its website. Climate change is widely recognised as “the biggest long-term threat to birds and other wildlife”, and “renewable energy is an essential part of the fight to tackle (it).”
Its own 100m tall wind turbine will save hundreds of tonnes of carbon emissions every year, and generate around half the electricity that the RSPB uses. RSPB director of conservation Martin Harper said: “Using wind energy is a proven and reliable technology that reduces greenhouse gas emissions. But turbines must be located where they are sympathetic to our natural environment.”
And that’s where it all becomes a little sticky for the charity, which recently lost a legal battle to prevent the development of a £2bn offshore wind farm in Scotland.
It had campaigned against the Neart na Geoithe development claiming that it threatened thousands of seabirds. Initially a ruling went in its favour but Scottish ministers lodged an appeal and overturned it in 2014. The next step was to send the case to the Supreme Court but that has been rejected. By the court of session.
The charity faced calls from 29 companies who would be involved, who wrote an open letter saying: “We are a growing group of Scottish businesses who passionately believe that Fife and the wider areas of east-central Scotland desperately need the benefits of the Neart na Geoithe offshore wind farm will bring in terms of jobs and local supply chain activation.”
Mainstream Renewable Power looks to commence construction early 2018. It’s estimated that it will provide power for 1.4m homes, create up to 2,000 jobs over its four-year construction period, and generate up to £1.2bn for the local economy.
Andy Kinsella, the company’s chief operating officer, said: “After more than two years and two court hearings, we hope that the RSPB acknowledges a fair hearing and allows us to get on with delivering the very significant benefits this project brings to the Scottish economy and its environment.”
What is promising for both sides is that there is clear intent to work together, and evidence it pays. Mainstream Renewable Power said that they were able to reduce the number of turbines to be installed from 125 in the original consent application in 2012, to a maximum of 64 turbines.
Anne McCall, director of RSPB Scotland said: “While disappointed by the court of session decision it is not wholly unexpected. We will now take time to consider the details and determine our next steps. The existing consents, if implemented, could have a significant impact on Scotland’s breeding seabirds but we are hopeful that by continuing to work with all the developers we will be able to reduce those impacts.”