Wildlife charity attempts to block Forth and Tay wind farm developments
Plans for four major wind farms are being challenged by a wildlife charity.
Scottish ministers approved the Inch Cape, Neart na Gaoithe and Seagreen Alpha and Bravo projects in the Firth of Forth and Firth of Tay in October.
But RSPB Scotland says the approved projects could have "serious implications" for wildlife in the area.
The wildlife charity has now mounted a legal challenge to oppose the development.
Scottish Renewables said the move was disappointing and that delay would potentially stall progress in Scotland reaching its renewables target.
Consent was given to the four developments under strict conditions to mitigate any potential environmental impact, and backing was given by environmental groups including Friends of the Earth Scotland.
If these decisions are allowed to stand, they could have serious implications - RSPB Scotland
However, a spokesperson for RSPB Scotland said: "We have not taken this decision lightly, but having given serious consideration to these decisions to grant consent, we have decided to take legal action.
"RSPB Scotland has a proven track record of taking a stand for nature, on behalf of our members and the general public, to ensure that wildlife and the natural environment is properly safeguarded for the future.
"If these decisions are allowed to stand, they could have serious implications for how birds and important wildlife sites are protected across Scotland and beyond.
"The vast majority of renewable energy developments pose no significant threat to birds or other wildlife.
"RSPB Scotland continues to support the development of carefully sited and designed renewables, including offshore wind. However, individual developments must be sited to avoid significant harm."
Lindsay Leask, senior policy manager at Scottish Renewables, said that every one of the projects had been through a rigorous, detailed and independent assessment lasting anywhere between one and two years.
"This new delay will make it even harder for Scotland to catch up with the rest of UK and northern Europe, which already have a sizeable offshore wind industry and supply chain supporting thousands of jobs.
"The irony here is that climate change is reckoned to be one of the biggest threats to Scotland's protected habitats and species.
“Offshore wind is a key part of the mix required for us to meet our targets for the growth of renewables and the reduction of carbon emissions."
In total the developments would create 400 new turbines with a combined output of over 2.2GW of power.