PLANS for a windfarm at Scotland's largest nature reserve have been axed and a raft of others have been legally stalled in a victory for campaigners and conservationists.

The Court of Session has ruled in favour of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds in its challenge against the Scottish Government's decisions to permit four schemes in the Forth and Tay Firths.

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Lord Stewart has ordered ministers to reconsider their consent after the RSPB argued consideration was not given to rare wildlife and that the Government had failed to properly consult interested parties regarding environmental concerns surrounding the project.

The Government had previously estimated the windfarms could generate up to £1.2billion for the national economy, create over 13,500 jobs and provide enough power for 1.4 million homes.

In a separate development, plans for turbines on the hills facing Wigtown Bay on the Galloway coast have been refused after a decision by Dumfries and Galloway Council was upheld by ministers.

The Government's Reporter, who adjudicates on contentious planning matters, refused an appeal by green energy firm Ecotricity "because of the significant adverse impacts the proposal would have on the regional scenic area and the landscape".

Objections by Historic Scotland to the scheme due to the proximity of Neolithic standing stones were also a factor in the seven turbine scheme being rejected.

Campaigners had claimed the turbines would "scar the Galloway Hills and views from the Machars Coast indefinitely", interfere with plans for further breeding eagles to be introduced in area already home to peregrine falcons, hen harriers, ospreys and red kites.

With Wigtown home to an increasingly popular literary festival and an inspiration for Robert Burns, J M Barrie and Gavin Maxwell, author of Ring of Bright Water, there were also claims the plans would "form a heinous backdrop to Scotland's National Book Town".

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The Government Reporter, Trevor Croft, said: "I do not consider that the undoubted renewable energy benefits of the proposal are sufficient to outweigh the adverse impacts on landscape, visual receptors and the cultural heritage. I have considered all the other matters raised, but there are none which would lead me to alter my conclusions."

Martin Green, of the Save Wigtown Bay campaign, said the decision had helped safeguard tourist industry jobs.

He added: "Opposed by a small group of objectors, who mobilised over 1200 local people to object to the proposal, Ecotricity should now have learned that they cannot impose their will in Dumfries and Galloway, anymore than they can in the Cotswolds. This decision is a triumph for quietist objection and highly professional analysis by the local council officers."

Dale Vince. of Ecotricity, said: “In Paris last year, the world agreed to limit the Earth’s temperature increase to below two degrees, that means we have to stop burning fossil fuels by 2050. wind energy has a key role to play in this historic transition, we need to take opportunities like this one, to build more sources of green energy.”

Following Lord Stewart's ruling, the RSPB said it was "encouraged by the decisions of the court" and "took the last resort decision to challenge Scottish Ministers.. with great reluctance".

It added: "Unfortunately, consents were granted when thousands of gannets, puffins, kittiwakes and other seabirds from iconic internationally protected wildlife sites like the Bass Rock and the Isle of May were predicted to be killed every year.

"The Government’s statutory nature conservation advisors, Scottish Natural Heritage and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee, had also raised significant concerns about the windfarms.

"In these circumstances, RSPB Scotland could not just stand by and let such devastating impacts on Scotland’s wildlife happen without making a stand. Regrettably, legal action was our only option."

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Minister for business, innovation and energy Paul Wheelhouse said: "Clearly, protecting Scotland's marine environment is of paramount importance: it is at the heart of the Scottish government's approach to offshore renewable energy applications, and we are keen to work constructively with both the RSPB and renewable energy developers to ensure the sector has a bright future in Scotland."