The Stronelairg site in the Mondadhliath Mountains. Photo: Karl and Ali CC-BY-SA-2.0

The Stronelairg site in the Mondadhliath Mountains. Photo: Karl and Ali CC-BY-SA-2.0

A conservation charity is attempting to limit its costs in a legal challenge to a major windfarm development.

The John Muir Trust applied to the Court of Session for protective expenses order, which would put a ceiling on the charity’s liability for the other side’s costs.

The application was made under a law that recently came into force. The process is available to individuals, charities and community groups bringing environmental cases against public bodies.

The trust is bringing a case against the decision to grant consent for the Stronelairg windfarm. It is seeking a judicial review of the decision on 6 June by Energy Minister Fergus Ewing to give the go-ahead to a 67-turbine development at Stronelairg – the largest ever approved in the Highlands – without any public local inquiry.

Stronelairg is in the heart of the Monadhliath Mountains, which had been proposed as a core area of wild land by Scottish Natural Heritage before the decision to approve the scheme. Subsequently, the Scottish Government asked SNH to remove Stronelairg and the surrounding area from the final version of the wild land areas map.

The decision to go ahead with the scheme was taken in the face of opposition from SNH, the Cairngorms National Park Authority; and three out of the four local councillors in Strathspey and Badenoch.

Launching the legal action last month, Helen McDade, the trust’s head of policy, said: “Because of the scale of the development, and the breadth of opposition to it, we believe it should have been the subject of a public local inquiry.

“In the absence of proper democratic scrutiny, our trustees concluded that we had no choice but to seek a judicial review.”

The judicial review is expected to be heard in December this year.

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