THE Scottish Government has said it will do all it can to continue to support offshore wind-farm development, as one of Scotland’s biggest projects continues to face problems.
The Neart na Gaoithe wind farm, planned for 12 miles off the coast of Fife, is still being held up due to legal action from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, putting the future of the £2 billion site at risk.
The project, which could create up to 1,500 construction jobs and 500 further permanent posts, is said to have the potential to supply electricity for the whole of Edinburgh.
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Planning permission for the NNG project and two other neighbouring schemes was granted by the Scottish Government in 2014, but a judicial review of the decision, which took evidence this summer, is still under way.
RSPB officials launched a legal challenge against the wind farm in January of last year, saying that although they support the construction of carefully designed renewables, the east coast development poses “too great a risk” to resident and migratory seabirds.
There is now concern that the project may lose subsidiary funds guaranteed under the Contract for Difference scheme as Mainstream Renewables, who proposed the site in 2009, only have till March 26 to sign off the plans, something that cannot be done until a verdict by the judicial review has been reached.
Critics have said that the delays highlight a big gulf between the rhetoric and the reality of Scotland’s renewable sector, but the Scottish Government has said that UK-wide policy is proving a “serious challenge for developers”.
The wind farm will sit in the outer Forth Estuary, about 30km north of Torness.
A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: “These projects offer enormous benefits to Scotland but UK policy delays present a serious challenge for developers.
“The Scottish government continues to do all it can to advance this scheme.”
Dublin-based renewable company Mainstream has so far invested £40 million in the NNG project.