Despite paying £50,000 SSE legal bill over Stronelairg, John Muir Trust fight on against inappropriate Highland wind farms

Stronelairg mountain-top landscape: Photograph Kevin Lelland
Stronelairg mountain-top landscape: Photograph Kevin Lelland

The John Muir Trust has agreed to pay Scottish and Southern Energy £50,000 in final settlement of court costs for the Stronelairg legal case, bringing its campaign against the Stronelairg wind farm development to a conclusion.

The Trust managed to negotiate down the combined legal costs of losing the case from £350,000.

 Helen McDade, head of policy at the John Muir Trust said: “The Trust took this legal case because the Stronelairg development will destroy a large area of wild land. 

“We believed that the consent of a massive windfarm in the Monadhliath mountains was the result of a defective planning process.  The Trust won the initial judicial review with the judge stating that the case was taken in the public interest. 

“Losing the case at appeal more than doubled the Trust’s potential liability and prevented us from continued action. This case has highlighted in planning and legal circles the urgent need for planning reform. 

“Two weeks ago SSE were pursuing the Trust for costs of £350,000, which would have been devastating for any environmental organisation and a deterrent for anyone that might consider seeking environmental justice in the future. Naturally the John Muir Trust is relieved to have negotiated to reach a much reduced settlement. 

“The generosity of more than a thousand supporters means that the Trust could take this important case on behalf of people and nature.”

Meanwhile the Trust intends to continue its campaign work to protect Scotland’s landscape while ‘working towards a sustainable future.’

The Trust believes in a more positive vision for this remote and beautiful area, and is actively supporting the campaign for World Heritage Status for the Caithness and Sutherland Flow Country peatlands.

McDaded added: “We will continue to work on the next stages of our Wild Land Campaign. Looking ahead, we see several challenges emerging, especially in the far north of Scotland.

“These include the Caplich windfarm, near Assynt, which goes to Public Local Inquiry in June and the re-submitted Limekiln windfarm, in west Caithness, which is likely to go to Inquiry.

“Our campaign will focus on obtaining expert advice, attending Public Local Inquiries, and delivering reports and consultation responses to influence government policies.”

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