Environmentalists have lost their latest legal challenge against plans for almost 2,000 homes in a national park.
The Cairngorms Campaign opposes four housing developments put forward in the Cairngorms National Park Authority’s (CNPA) local plan.
The construction of up to 1,500 homes at An Camas Mor, near Aviemore, 300 at Kingussie, 117 at Carrbridge and 40 at Nethy Bridge could threaten the area’s heritage and wildlife, the group says.
It launched a legal challenge against the plans at the Court of Session, which was rejected by judge Lord Glennie in September last year.
An appeal against that judgment was also dismissed in a ruling today.
Campaigners argue that the park authority’s assessment of the potential ecological impact of the developments is “unlawful”.
In submissions to the court, the group’s legal team said the local plan should not have been adopted based on that assessment.
But judge Lady Paton, sitting with Lady Smith and Lord Bracadale, said: “The CNPA’s appropriate assessment cannot be said to be one which no reasonable authority would have produced in the circumstances. It was, therefore, open to the CNPA to adopt a local plan which relied on that assessment.”
The court was not persuaded that it was necessary to refer the action to the European Court of Justice, the judgment said.
Campaign spokesman Craig Macadam, director of conservation charity Buglife Scotland, said: “This ruling is a major setback not just for the protection of ‘protected’ wildlife, landscape and heritage in the Cairngorms but potentially for future assessments throughout the European Union where it set a precedent for inadequate assessment of sites before their destruction.”
Grant Moir, chief executive of Cairngorms National Park Authority, said: “We welcome the court’s judgment in relation to the Cairngorms National Park local plan, which reaffirms the court’s rejection of all the grounds of challenge to the local plan.
“The local plan therefore remains in place as it stands and the Cairngorms National Park Authority will continue to work to deliver the four aims of the park collectively.”