The site of the proposed Stronelairg windfarm. Photo: Kevin Lelland

The site of the proposed Stronelairg windfarm. Photo: Kevin Lelland

Politicians are urging the Scottish Government not to pursue a leading charity for legal costs incurred fighting a windfarm application.

Members of the Scottish National Party are among those calling on their own administration to waive the right for costs against the John Muir Trust.

The trust initially won a judicial review against the giant Stronelairg windfarm in the heart of Monadhliath Mountains, but the decision was later overturned by appeal judges, leaving it facing substantial bills.

The Greens and Scottish Conservatives have also backed the charity. 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 power company SSE’s chief executive Alistair Phillips-Davies.

They make the point that, in the public interest, both should waive their right to pursue legal costs against the John Muir Trust. Individual SNP MSPs are also understood to have raised the same point with the minister.

The JMT said: “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.”

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.

“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.”

Some articles the site thinks might be related:

  1. John Muir Trust calls for public inquiry into Stronelairg windfarm
  2. Mountaineers give £5,000 after John Muir Trust loses Stronelairg windfarm appeal
  3. Scottish ministers and power firm SSE appeal against Stronelairg windfarm ruling
  4. John Muir Trust joins opposition to ‘wild land’ windfarm
  5. John Muir Trust plans toilets and extra parking at foot of Blàbheinn on Skye