Scottish Government wind farm approval ‘defective’ judge rules

SSE StronelairgThe Scottish Government’s decision to approve a 67-turbine wind farm near Fort Augustus has been described by a judge in the Court of Session as “defective” following a judicial review.

Lord Jones said ministers made their decision on SSE’s Stronelairg project “in breach of environmental obligations”.

The John Muir Trust, a landscape charity, sought judicial review after the wind farm was granted planning consent last year, saying it would “destroy the character” of the land.

The government said it was considering the judgment and planned to appeal it.

Westwater Advocates’ Sir Crispin Agnew of Lochnaw Bt QC and Donald Cameron acted for the John Muir Trust.

Lord Jones reduced the decision consenting the wind farm, ruling that members of the public had been denied the opportunity to comment on revisals to the application suggested by The Highland Council for the proposed wind farm, and that ministers did not take into account Scottish Natural Heritage’s objection in principle to any wind farm development at Stronelairg.

In ruling on whether the Trust was entitled to challenge the consent granted by ministers and on whether the Trust could be considered disadvantaged by the decision, Lord Jones concluded it was taking the action for the public good, saying: “The interest of any non-governmental organisation, such as the trust, is deemed sufficient. The question, therefore, is not whether the trust was prejudiced, but whether members of the public were prejudiced.”

He also said: “If the ministers did take into consideration SNH’s objection in principle to any wind farm development at Stronelairg, they have given no reason for rejecting it, and the decision is defective on that account.”

A government spokesperson said: “We have received the judgement of Lord Jones in relation to the petition lodged by the John Muir Trust for the judicial review of the Scottish ministers’ decision to grant consent to construct and operate the Stronelairg wind farm, Garrogie Estate, Fort Augustus.

“Scottish ministers are considering the terms of the judgement carefully with a view to appealing.”

A spokesperson for 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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