Judge rules Viking project should not have been given planning consent as ministers failed to follow EU birds directive
The future of a proposed windfarm on Shetland touted as one of the most productive in the world has been thrown into doubt in a legal battle over a rare wading bird and an obscure part of British energy law.
A judge in Edinburgh has ruled that the Viking windfarm project, set to be one of the largest in the UK, should not have been given planning consent last year, in a victory for local anti-windfarm campaigners.
Lady Clark ruled that ministers had failed to follow an EU birds directive when they weighed up the threats posed by the project to the whimbrel, an endangered wading bird which nests almost exclusively on Shetland.
In a judicial review decision that could have serious implications for other new renewable energy projects across the UK, Clark also found against Viking Energy because the company did not yet have an electricity generating licence.
The project's collapse would be a blow to Alex Salmond's ambition forScotland to generate all of its domestic electricity needs from renewable power by 2020. That goal is already in doubt because of the great cost and logistical problems involved.
The Viking project will comprise 103 turbines across 50 square miles of Shetland's main island. With a potential capacity of 370MW and 457MW, it is expected to produce enough electricity to power at least 175,000 homes if it goes live as planned in 2018.