Campaigners win court battle over huge Highlands wind farm

Permission for a 67-turbine wind farm in the Scottish Highlands has been overturned after the Court of Session ruled that the public were not given the opportunity to comment on the revised application, and an objection from Scottish Natural Heritage had not been taken into account.

Wind energy: decision issued by Court of Session (picture by xlibber, Flickr)
Wind energy: decision issued by Court of Session (picture by xlibber, Flickr)

The 67-turbine scheme at Stronelairg was approved by Scottish energy minister Fergus Ewing in June 2014. At the time, the Scottish Government said the project would power the equivalent of up to 114,000 homes and generate up to £30 million of benefits to the Highlands.

However, charity the John Muir Trust challenged Ewing’s decision to approve the wind farm without any public local inquiry and lodged a petition to the Court of Session asking for a judicial review.

Lord Jones last week ruled that members of the public had not been given the opportunity to comment on a revised planning application for the scheme, the John Muir Trust said. Lord Jones also ruled that Scottish ministers had not taken into account Scottish Natural Heritage’s objection in principle to any wind farm development at Stronelairg, it added.

Stuart Brooks, chief executive at the John Muir Trust said: "This is great news for all those who love Scotland’s wild land and wish to see it protected."  

Brooks said the charity will now be asking Scottish Natural Heritage and the Scottish Government to reinstate the Stronelairg area in the Wild Land Areas map.

He added: "SSE should recognise that this was the wrong development, of the wrong size and in the wrong place. The company now has an opportunity to show that they are listening to communities and tourism bodies and to engage with others to revitalise the natural environment there rather than pursue this damaging development which would cover a footprint the size of Inverness. 

"Lessons need to be learned from the lack of proper procedure and incorrect decision-making by the government."

In a statement, SSE said: "We are disappointed with the result of the judicial review of the consent decision for Stronelairg wind farm. We will now review the judgement in detail and consider our options accordingly."

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