Press release 02/10/2013

Court of Session overrules Viking Energy planning consent

Sustainable Shetland is delighted to receive confirmation today from the Court of Session in Edinburgh that the Scottish Ministers’ decision to grant consent to the proposed Viking wind farm has been set aside.

Lady Clark of Calton held that the decision to grant consent under section 36 of the Electricity Act 1989 was incompetent because Viking Energy Partnership did not have a licence to generate electricity.

Lady Clark also held that Ministers failed to have proper regard to the European Birds Directive.

Many of the issues relating to the European Birds Directive had been brought to the attention of Ministers by Scottish Natural Heritage, including the fact that a proposed Habitat Management Plan by the developers could not be relied upon. Lady Clark also commented that Ministers might theoretically require to consider whether the Fetlar Special Protection Area required to be extended or re-designated for whimbrel, a migratory wading bird. Lady Clark’s interpretation of the European Birds Directive has important implications for wind farms throughout the UK where bird populations that are at risk are present.

The Court awarded Sustainable Shetland expenses from the Scottish Ministers, limited to a cap of £60,000 as set by a Protective Expenses Order.

Frank Hay, the Sustainable Shetland Chairman said,“This ruling is hugely important. We have always felt that this project was wrong for Shetland – a belief upheld by our own planning department, who advised that Shetland Islands Council should recommend refusal to the consent. We are heartened by today’s outcome, which reflects months of hard work by all concerned. Once again we would like to thank our legal team and our Members for all their efforts and generous support.”

All parties have 21 days to decide whether or not to appeal the ruling. Sustainable Shetland will be consulting further with their legal team and their Members.

Read the full Court of Session judgment for yourself.