Protesters fighting to save Culloden battlefield from a housing development may be about to concede defeat.
As the deadline for mounting a legal appeal draws near, objectors say they have not taken any steps to prevent construction of the 16 homes at Viewhill, near the historic moor. And last night they admitted the high cost of pursuing a court action was likely to prove too large an obstacle. Campaigner Colin Williamson said: “My heart says yes but my head says no. The cost would be a challenge and we obviously don’t have much time before a decision has to be made.”
The group has less than two weeks to make a decision on whether to appeal to the Court of Session.
It is believed a legal case could cost more than £50,000. Developer Inverness Properties won planning approval for the homes earlier this year.
Highland Council originally rejected the housing application. However, it was subsequently allowed on appeal to the Scottish Government.
Since then, Inverness Properties has sold Viewhill Farm to north businessman David Sutherland. He intends to continue with the housing plan – but has said he is willing to discuss the use of the remaining farmland with the National Trust for Scotland (NTS), which manages the battlefield.
One option might be for the NTS to buy the land from Mr Sutherland’s company, Home Farms, and lease it back for agricultural use. Protests have been staged against the housing development, which falls within the historic boundary of the battlefield site, and more than 16,000 people signed a petition organised by the campaign group, with support coming from all over the globe.
Mr Sutherland did not want to comment on the issue last night.
But councillor Jim Crawford, who has supported the campaign since the plans were first put forward, has also expressed doubt over whether a legal challenge can be raised. He said: “I do not think it will go to the Court of Appeal.”
Comment, Page 28