Legal bid to halt Stonelairg wind farm

A wind farm at Ardrossan. A development scheduled for a beauty spot near Fort Augustus in the Highlands is at the centre of a legal bid to block it. Picture: PA

A wind farm at Ardrossan. A development scheduled for a beauty spot near Fort Augustus in the Highlands is at the centre of a legal bid to block it. Picture: PA

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LAWYERS acting for a wildlife charity have asked a judge to stop a wind farm development at a beauty spot in the Highlands.

The John Muir Trust claim that Scottish government should never have given the go ahead to the 67 turbine Stonelairg development near Fort Augustus.

Yesterday, the organisation’s legal team told the Court of Session that the June 2014 decision contravenes planning laws.

Advocate Sir Crispin Agnew QC told judge Lord Jones that if the scheme were to proceed, it would result in a piece of wild land being destroyed.

Sir Crispin added: “If consent was granted, this land would be cease to be called wild land.”

The senior lawyer was speaking on the first day of a judicial review at the Edinburgh court.

The John Muir trust want the Court of Session to rule that the government’s decision was illegal and for the proposed development to be stopped.

The proposed wind farm project would be located in the Monadhliath mountains and would cover an area equivalent in size to Inverness.

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Opponents claim that people would be able to see the wind turbines from several miles away.

The proposal was approved by energy minister Fergus Ewing despite opposition from Scottish National Heritage and members of the public.

The proposal was also granted without a public local inquiry taking place.

At the time the decision was granted, the government said the project would generate power for 114,000 homes and bring £30 million of benefits to the area.

Mr Ewing said the wind farm would create work during its construction and operation.

He added: “Once it is up and running, the wind farm will save thousands of tonnes of carbon dioxide each year and will be able to produce enough electricity to power thousands of homes in the Highlands.

“As well as bringing benefits to the local community, the Stonelairg wind farm will also benefit the wider Highland region through the provision of a sustainable development fund.”

However, the John Muir Trust and the Mountaineering Council of Scotland also opposed the scheme.

The trust also believes that the wind farm would have a negative effect on tourism.

Sir Crispin told the court that the Scottish government’s decision was illegal and that the court should stop the proposed wind farm being built.

He added: “It ought to be protected.” The proceedings are expected to take three days.

Lawyers for the Scottish government and SSE the company that wants to operate the wind farm are also expected to address the court. The proceedings continues on tomorrow.

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