A NEW village in the Cairngorms National Park has been given the green light to go ahead after conservationists dropped a challenge against a number of major developments in the area.
The objections to the park authority’s Local Plan has now been abandoned by those who had persistently pursued the case.
It means a 1,500-home project, near Aviemore, which had been delayed for several yeas, could now go ahead.
Landowners Rothiemurchus Estate are behind the plans for a village of eco-friendly houses at An Camas Mòr, on a banks of the River Spey. It would be the first new settlement to be built in a UK national park.
Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA), first approved the proposal in June 2010.
The Badenoch and Strathspey Conservation Group, the Cairngorms Campaign and the Scottish Campaign for National Parks had lodged an appeal with the UK Supreme Court after losing their earlier Court of Session appearances.
They have now abandoned the case, which the park authority has claimed has cost them around £170,000 in legal fees. This money, they claim, could have gone towards other conservation projects.
The conservationists objected to new settlements within the authority area, including new homes in the villages of Carrbridge, Kingussie and Nethy Bridge.
Gus Jones, Convener of the Badenoch and Strathspey Conservation Group “The reason for our challenge terminating at this stage is because the Supreme Court refused to limit our liability to the CNPA’s legal costs.
“No charity could proceed on the basis of unknown costs.
“The incredible level of public support we have received demonstrates the deep and far-reaching public concern that exists about the Park Authority’s unsustainable and developer-driven approach to planning taken in their Local Plan, which threatens the natural heritage that the Park was set up to protect.”
Ian Lawson, founding Convener and long-serving director of the Cairngorms Campaign, added: “That we have been able to take this case so far is testimony to the groundswell of support for what we were trying to do.
“Many people feel outraged about excessive development in the NP that includes an entire new town.
“We have been following due process and we are disappointed that we have not been able to get the clarification of the law that we were seeking. We hope this case will lead to tighter scrutiny of future Park Plans. We give every one of our supporters our heartfelt thanks for their generous help.”
CNPA chief executive Grant Moir said: “The CNPA has been able to recoup £38,000 from the appellants for this lengthy legal challenge to the Local Plan.
“The appellants were granted protection on liabilities for expenses from the courts and so a considerable expense to the taxpayer could not be recouped.
“The first Local Plan for the Cairngorms National Park had been through a thorough consultation process as well as a Public Local Inquiry before being adopted in October 2010.
“Two court judgements already resulted in the appellant’s arguments being rejected so we were understandably extremely disappointed by them appealing to the UK Supreme Court
“I am obviously delighted that this is now the end of the matter but disappointed that it was not brought to an end sooner.”
He added that the significant legal fees were not the only issue.
He said: “We’ve invested a considerable amount of staff time and energy defending the appeal over the last few years. It’s frustrating to think that this is time and money that would have been better targeted towards conservation projects in the Cairngorms National Park.”
The legal challenge to the Local Plan has cost the CNPA in excess of £170,000 in legal fees since 2011.