Stronelairg wind farmPublished: 24th July 2012
History of our campaign against the giant Stronelairg wind farm in the Monadhliath Mountains
Update May 2017:- Trust reaches settlement with Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) in Stronelairg wind farm legal case. Read our statement
Update April 2017:- Trust reaches settlement with the Scottish Government at £75,000 as a contribution to their legal costs which were claimed to be more than £189,000 - far more than they had said they would be, in court. Read our statement
Update August 2016:- Trust ends legal action. Read our statement
Summary:- In summer 2012, SSE submitted an application for an 83 turbine wind farm at Stronelairg, in the heart of wild land in the Monadhliath mountains, roughly south east of Fort Augustus. We objected to the development in July 2012 on the grounds of impacts on wild land, tourism, cumulative impact and impacts on peatland.
In early June 2014 the Scottish Government consented to the building of a 67 turbine development at Stronelairg. This decision went against the advice of the government's natural heritage advisor, Scottish Natural Heritage, and the Cairngorms National Park Authority. The public had opposed the development by 15 to 1.
The wind farm site lies in an area that in 2013 had been proposed to be officially recognised as wild land. However, the site was excluded from the final map of Wild Land Areas (WLAs) published on 23 June 2014, due to the consented wind farm. The Trust submitted a Freedom of Information Request to Scottish Natural Heritage which confirmed that the Scottish Government asked SNH to revise this area in the final Wild Land Areas map due to Stronelairg.
We campaigned hard against this development, taking legal action to try to stop Stronelairg from being built and to save the wild land in that area from this inappropriate development.
In August 2014 we lodged a petition for a Judicial Review to the Court of Session. The hearing took place between 11-13 February 2015. On 4 December 2015 Lord Jones ruled that members of the public had been denied the opportunity to comment on a revised planning application for the proposed wind farm, and that Scottish Ministers did not take into account Scottish Natural Heritage’s objection in principle to any wind farm development at Stronelairg. Due to these errors, Lord Jones reduced the Ministers’ decision to grant consent for the wind farm.
Subsequently, the Scottish Government and SSE appealed this decision. The appeal was held between 4-6 May 2016 in the Inner House of the Court of Session in Edinburgh. In a separate but related appeal the previous week, the Trust was refused a Protective Expenses Order that would have limited its liability for costs in the Inner House of the Court of Session in the event of losing the main appeal. The judgment was a split decision with Lady Smith and Lord Brodie finding against the Trust with Lord Drummond Young supporting the Trust’s case.
On 22 July we sadly learnt that the Inner House of the Court of Session in Edinburgh had overturned Lord Jones decision to refuse planning permission. On 29 July we issued a statement announcing our intention to end our legal action. Read more here
We are grateful to everyone who supported our "Stop Stronelairg" appeal and who took action to try and persuade the Scottish Government and SSE not to seek costs against us. Find out how you can help protect Scotland's Wild Land Areas through our Keep it Wild campaign