Supreme court cuts down size of SSE’s planned Stronelairg wind farm project

Stronelairg wind farm plan; the red 'dots' plot location of wind turbines; Fort Augustus is located due north north west
Stronelairg wind farm plan; the red ‘dots’ plot location of wind turbines; Fort Augustus is located due north north west

The Court of Session – Scotland’s supreme court – has cut down the size of the planned new SSE wind farm near Loch ness.

But the Perth-based developer has today confirmed that it intends to appeal the ruling reducing the consent decision for Stronelairg wind farm, and also welcomed the decision by the Scottish Government to do the same.

However, the John Muir Trust – which raised the judicial review against the Scot-Govt’s decision to approve the Stronelairg wind farm plan – slammed the government for ‘wasting public money’ over its intention to appeal.

The Trust’s head of policy, Helen McDade said: “The Trust has had tremendous support from the public that has allowed us to take this very costly judicial review.

“Lord Jones confirmed in his decision that the Trust was taking this action for the public good.

“It is therefore, disappointing that the Scottish Government is spending more public money to defend a planning decision which has been found to be illegal.

“The government and SSE should show good faith with the public. If SSE wish to progress this scheme they should submit a new planning application and the correct process should be followed, rather than continuing the expensive legal process.”

An SSE spokesman said: “We believe the consent decision was lawful. Stronelairg is a carefully designed project sited on degraded peatland with the carbon payback estimated to be around 16 months.

“It will sit in a natural upland bowl, will not be seen from the Great Glen’s key tourist routes, and will be entirely invisible from Loch Ness. Stronelairg will utilise extensive existing infrastructure at our Glendoe hydro scheme.       
“The project would bring significant benefits to the local and wider economy. It was strongly supported by many local stakeholders, was not opposed by the local community council and was supported by the Highland Council planning committee.”

In June 2012, SSE submitted an application to the Scottish Government for an 83 turbine wind farm south-east of Fort Augustus. This was later reduced to 67 turbines, with a generating capacity of up to 240MW.

It is estimated as much as £120 million in contracts could be secured by Highland and other Scottish companies, and that significant local employment opportunities will be created during construction and operation.

SSE has pledged to provide up to £30 million of community funds for 25 years from the start of construction.

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