Plans for the biggest windfarm in the Highlands are to go ahead

The Stronelairg site, near Fort Augustus.

Campaigners have abandoned their fight against plans for the Highlands’ biggest windfarm yet – because of the prohibitive cost of further legal action.

SSE’s latest 67-turbine scheme will be built, with Scottish Government blessing, on a site the size of Inverness at the south end of Loch Ness.

Stronelairg’s contribution to saving the planet will span 8,650 acres and involve the excavation of a vast area of peatland – a massive carbon store.

The conservation charity the John Muir Trust (JMT) is yet to learn what its liability for the legal costs will be but confirmed yesterday it would not seek leave to appeal to the Supreme Court.

The Court of Session had last week upheld an appeal by ministers and SSE against a previous ruling that had halted the Stronelairg development.

Objectors had previously successfully argued that the public had been denied the opportunity to comment on a revised planning application and that ministers failed to adequately address concerns of their own advisers at Scottish Natural Heritage who opposed in principle any windfarm on the site.

SNH had warned that the development would destroy the character of one of Scotland’s key areas of wild land.

The application was also opposed by the Cairngorms National Park Authority, the Mountaineering Council of Scotland and three out of four local councillors. Written objections from the public outnumbered letters of support by 15 to one.

In a statement, JMT said: “Fighting this has consumed a significant amount of time and money.

“We’re profoundly grateful for the generosity of all those who have donated to the Stronelairg appeal and to those who have pledged further support.

“After considering all the options, we’ve come to the conclusion that we have reached the end of the road with our legal action.”

Jim Treasurer of pressure group Friends of the Great Glen said: “Were he alive today, John Muir would be appalled that a government in 2016 is still sacrificing wild land and ecosystems for the sake of commercial interest.”

David Gibson of Mountaineering Scotland said: “The winner is big business. The loser is Scotland’s wild land. This development will cause massive environmental and visual damage to a much loved area.”

 

Legal fees prove a barrier

There will be no further challenge to proposals for the Highlands’ biggest windfarm yet because of the prohibitive cost of any further legal action.

The 67 giant turbines will be built by SSE near Fort Augustus on a site the size of Inverness.

The conservation charity the John Muir Trust confirmed yesterday (FRI) it will not seek leave to appeal to the Supreme Court over Scottish Ministers’ approval of it.

The Court of Session last week upheld an appeal by ministers and SSE against a previous ruling that had halted the Stronelairg development.

Objectors had previously successfully argued that the public had been denied the opportunity to comment on a revised planning application and that ministers had failed to give adequate reasons for their decision when SNH was opposed in principle to any windfarm on the site because it could not be mitigated.

In a statement, the trust said: “Fighting this battle has consumed a significant amount of time and money.

“We’re profoundly grateful for the generosity of all those who have donated to the Stronelairg appeal to date and to those who have pledged further support. We could not have come this far without the backing of our members and supporters.

“After considering all the options, including initiating an appeal to the UK Supreme Court, we have come to the conclusion that we have reached the end of the road with our legal action.”

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