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UK wind farms challenged over birds impact

Four major offshore wind developments have been hit with a legal challenge because of their proximity to seabird colonies.

The Royal Society for Protection of Birds (RSPB) is seeking a judicial review of the Scottish government's decision to grant planning consent for four offshore wind farms of Scotland’s east coast.If the decision is allowed to stand it could have “serious implications” for wildlife protection in Scotland and beyond, the NGO said.

The projects backed by EDF, Repsol, SSE, Mainstream and Fluor have a combined capacity of over 2GW.

Before it lodged the case the RSPB warned that “nowhere in Europe have offshore wind schemes been proposed in such close proximity to seabird colonies of this size”. It said the proposed projects could potentially see thousands of seabirds die each year.However it has acknowledged that there is “great uncertainty” over how many seabirds are likely to be killed in collisions with turbines or prevented from feeding by the development.

The Scottish government maintains that “strict conditions” imposed on developers will mean any impacts on seabirds and wildlife will be closely monitored and mitigated.

The RSPB says it supports “carefully sited and designed” offshore wind projects, and the “vast majority” of UK renewable energy developments pose no significant threat to birds or other wildlife.

Issue 39