The most powerful court in the country has given two north-east councils the go-ahead to appeal a decision which left them more than £7.5million out of pocket.
Earlier this year, the Duke of Fife, who is the Queen’s cousin, won a battle with Aberdeenshire and Aberdeen City councils to slash a developer contribution bill for his Chapelton of Elsick development from £8million to £287,000.
Lawyers acting on behalf of the Elsick Development Company (EDC) – of which the duke is director – went to the Court of Session in Edinburgh in April to argue the cash demand was unlawful and won.
The developer had been involved in the dispute with Aberdeen City and Shire Strategic Development Authority (SDPA) since 2013.
However, it emerged yesterday that the Supreme Court has given the SDPA leave to appeal the decision by the Court of Session.
The north-east organisation wanted the EDC to pay millions towards infrastructure improvements through its Strategic Transport Fund.
This included contributions towards a new bridge over the River Dee and Kintore Railway Station.
Yesterday, SDPA chairman and Lib Dem councillor for Aboyne, Upper Deeside and Donside, Peter Argyle, said: “There is not a lot to say at this stage other than I am pleased the Supreme Court have granted us leave to appeal.
“Clearly, I wasn’t entirely in agreement with the Court of Session, so the fact we can now take it to the Supreme Court is a welcome development.
“I think it was a very good policy we developed, it was innovative, it spread the burden. It was an enabling rather than punitive measure. I was definitely disappointed the Court of Session didn’t share our view.”
Vice-chairman of the SDPA and Aberdeen City Labour councillor, Ramsay Milne, added: “I am very pleased the Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case of the SDPA.
“The head of legal services has been authorised to take the matter forward now, so we will be going forward with the appeal. There’s a lot of money at stake.”
A total of 4,045 houses have been given approval at the Chapelton of Elsick, near Newtonhill, and the EDC hopes to eventually create 8,000 new homes at the site.
Last night, the duke said: “We have been notified of the decision of the Supreme Court to allow the appeal and are surprised.
“The inner house of the Court of Session was clear in its judgement on the case and in refusing leave to appeal.
“We remain very confident in the strength of our case, but are disappointed that we have to go through the argument all over again.”