A ï¿½2 billion wind farm project is to go ahead after a long-running legal battle with wildlife campaigners drew to a close.
The Neart na Gaoithe wind farm, off the coast of Fife, was one of four projects given planning approval by Scottish ministers in 2014, but challenged in the courts by RSPB Scotland.
The charity won its initial legal bid after arguing the offshore developments ï¿½ also including the Inch Cape and Seagreen Alpha and Bravo projects ï¿½ threatened thousands of seabirds.
However, the ruling was overturned after ministers appealed.
The charity then took its fight to the Supreme Court, but its application for leave to appeal was refused on Tuesday.
RSPB Scotland said it was ï¿½extremely disappointedï¿½ by the decision, but renewable energy industry bodies hailed it as a ï¿½significant step forwardï¿½ for offshore wind.
Mainstream Renewable Power, the firm behind the Neart na Gaoithe development off the coast of Fife, said work on the project is expected to start in 2018.
Chief executive Andy Kinsella said: ï¿½After more than two and a half years, two court hearings and two rejected applications for leave to appeal by RSPB Scotland, we can finally focus on delivering the very significant benefits this project brings to the Scottish economy and its environment.ï¿½
Anne McCall, director of RSPB Scotland, said: ï¿½In light of this refusal for permission to appeal, we will be taking some time to consider all other options remaining to us.
ï¿½However, we are extremely disappointed with this decision, following nearly a decadeï¿½s worth of effort from RSPB Scotland to help deliver offshore wind in Scotland in a manner that respects one of the countryï¿½s most impressive and internationally-renowned natural assets ï¿½ its fantastic seabird colonies.ï¿½
Tackling climate change
RenewableUKï¿½s chief executive Hugh McNeal said: ï¿½This is another significant step forward for the UKï¿½s world-leading offshore wind industry.
ï¿½Major infrastructure projects like Neart na Gaoithe offshore wind farm are vital for our countryï¿½s economic growth, as well as playing a key role in tackling climate change.
ï¿½When building work starts next year, Mainstream Renewable Power will be creating thousands of new jobs, and investing hundreds of millions in the UKï¿½s economy as our supply chain extends to every corner of the country.ï¿½
Stephanie Conesa, policy manager at Scottish Renewables, said: ï¿½News that the Neart na Gaoithe project can now go ahead is good for Scotland, good for the UK and good for our environment.ï¿½
The RYA acknowledges the Government's desire to promote renewable energy, however we are keen to ensure the navigational safety of recreational boating around the coast. You can read more about our work relating to offshore wind and tidal energy installations in the Current Affairs hub.