A former energy minister has claimed “offshore wind in Scotland is pretty much dead” after a legal challenge against four major projects.
A judge upheld RSPB Scotland’s challenge to consent for turbines in the Firth of Forth and Firth of Tay.
Brian Wilson said the charity now “hold all the cards” over the schemes, which were to include hundreds of turbines.
The Scottish government said it remained “committed” to renewable energy but wanted to study the ruling.
The four projects – Inch Cape, Neart na Gaoithe and Seagreen Alpha and Bravo – were approved by Scottish ministers in October 2014, and could power more than 1.4 million homes.
RSPB Scotland lodged a legal challenge, saying the turbines could have “serious implications” for wildlife, and argued that the government had breached legal requirements when making the original decision by not giving proper consideration to this.
Judge Lord Stewart ruled in favour of the charity, calling the consents “defective”, meaning ministers will have to reconsider the planning decisions and address the points put forward by the RSPB’s lawyers.
Former Labour MP and UK energy minister Mr Wilson, a longtime critic of the SNP’s energy policy, said the legal challenge was an “extremely serious setback”.
He said: “On the face of it, offshore wind in Scotland is pretty much dead. The RSPB now hold all the cards.
“They were forced into this comprehensive action because the Scottish government delayed consent and then clustered these four wind farms together, so the RSPB went to court on the basis of cumulative impact.
“What they have to decide is if they want to kill all four schemes or prepare to take a more balanced view, but the ball is in the RSPB’s court without a doubt.”
Mr Wilson said only the Neart na Gaoithe project had access to subsidies, and as such had been the only one likely to go ahead in the near future, and blamed the Scottish government for not dealing with the case more quickly.
He said: “They took five years to determine that application. They then delayed it further until after the independence referendum to avoid any controversy, and by that time three other applications had stacked up, and they consented all four together.