Trust 'disappointed' at court ruling over Stronelairg legal costs

Court of Session refuses request for Protective Expenses Order for Stronelairg legal challenge costs.

The Court of Session in Edinburgh has refused to grant a Protective Expenses Order (PEO) to the John Muir Trust in its legal battle against the largest wind farm yet proposed for the Scottish Highlands.

The hearing marked the first stage in a legal challenge to the Scottish Government’s decision earlier this year to consent a 67-turbine development proposed by Scottish and Southern Energy at Stronelairg, in an area which was identified as wild land, in the Monadhliath Mountains between Loch Ness and the Cairngorms.

The Protective Expenses Order procedure exists to make it possible for anyone, including charities or communities, to take a case in the courts to protect the environment in the public interest, without the risk of exposure to prohibitive costs from the other parties.

Stuart Brooks, Chief Executive for the John Muir Trust said: “Naturally, we are disappointed with this decision.

“We do not have access to the resources of either the Scottish Government or SSE, the energy giant which stands to make hundreds of millions of pounds from the Stronelairg development.

“Today’s decision suggests that charities in Scotland will find it extremely difficult to obtain a measure of protection from very high legal costs when bringing environmental cases in the public interest.”

The Trust will now consider the implications of today’s ruling. In the meantime, the Trust is seeking donations to allow it to carry on with the legal case. The judicial review itself is timetabled to be heard in December.

SSE Power Distribution (SSEPD) is seeking feedback on its proposals for the grid connection for the Stronelairg wind farm. SSEPD has chosen the Melgarve area above the Corrieyairick Pass/General Wade’s Military Road, through which the new Beauly-Denny power line runs. A formal application for consent is not expected until 2015. However, please register your concern and tell SSEPD that building a grid connection in the Melgarve area will desecrate yet another area of wild land.

Find more details and the feedback form here - (please complete the form and send to SSEPD by Friday 7 November).