Trust welcomes cross party support over Stronelairg legal costs
Greens, Conservatives and individual SNP MSPs have called on Scottish Govt and SSE to waive their right to pursue the Trust for expenses
Two political parties along with individual SNP MSPs have called on the Scottish Government and SSE asking them not to pursue costs against the John Muir Trust over the Stronelairg judicial review.
The Trust initially won a judicial review against the giant wind farm in the heart of Monadliath Mountains, but the decision was later overturned by appeal judges.
Highland MSP John Finnie, on behalf of the Scottish Green Party parliamentary group, and Maurice Golden, Environment Spokesperson for the Scottish Conservative Party have separately written to Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse and to SSE CEO Alistair Phillips-Davies. They make the point that, in the public interest, both should waive their right to pursue legal costs against the Trust. Individual SNP MSPs are also understood to have raised the same point with the Minister.
Under the Aarhus Convention, individual citizens and non-governmental organisations acting in the public interest should have access to fair, equitable, and timely legal review procedures that are not ‘prohibitively expensive’. The Scottish Green Party and the Scottish Conservatives, together with other individual MSPs, note that John Muir Trust took the Stronelairg action in the public interest and therefore should not now be facing punitive legal bills incurred by the government and SSE.
Welcoming the moves, Helen McDade, Head of Policy for the Trust, said: “We would like to thank the Scottish Greens, Scottish Conservatives and those individual MSPs for taking this principled stand in defence of environmental justice. The Trust took the action over Stronelairg in the public interest because there had been no opportunity for proper public scrutiny of the environmental impact of the proposal.”
“Although we are disappointed that the final decision went against us, the legal action did throw the spotlight onto some of the flaws in the planning system,” said Helen McDade.
“These have implications for communities across Scotland who may in the future choose to take a stand against activities that might raise environmental concerns – whether that be energy infrastructure, fracking, super-quarries or road building.
“We understand that the stance of the Green and Conservative Parties is also taken by individual MSPs right across the political spectrum. The Scottish Government and SSE would we believe be on the side of public opinion if they assume their own legal costs for the Stronelairg case.”