The John Muir Trust has lost its legal battle to be exempted from the traditional ‘loser pays all’ legal expenses rule in its bid to overturn Scot-Government’s decision to approve a controversial windfarm development.
The 67-turbine Stronelairg project is being developed by Perth-based utility giant SSE.
The Scot-Government’s own statutory advisor – Scottish Natural Heritage – and the Cairngorms National Park Authority – object to the SSE plan.
Lord Phillip, in the Court of Session in Edinburgh, refused to grant a Protective Expenses Order (PEO) to the John Muir Trust.
This is the first stage of a legal challenge to the Scottish Government’s decision earlier this year to consent a giant wind famr 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, 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.
“This decision suggests that charities in Scotland will now 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 the court ruling. In the meantime, the Trust is seeking donations to allow it to carry on with the legal case.
The judicial review itself is due to be heard next month.