A HIGHLAND estate infamous for its radioactive beach has been put on the market for at least £2.45 million. Geoffrey Minter, the laird of Sandside in Caithness, has described putting the 9,350-acre property up for sale as “devastating”.
However, the four-mile stretch of beach – where more than 200 radioactive particles have been discovered – is not included in the sale because of ongoing action.
Mr Minter’s firm, Magnohard, went into administration after a long-running legal battle over the radioactive contamination of his land by the operators of the Dounreay nuclear plant.
He said in a statement yesterday: “Sandside Estate is being offered for sale after 21 years of ownership, improvement and caring stewardship.
“Sandside House and gardens, which is owned privately, will be offered simultaneously.
“Sandside Estate’s radioactively contaminated four miles of coastal land and sand dunes – which it owns down to the low watermark and which became unexpectedly contaminated by hotspots from Dounreay, together with its wild salmon fishing rights – will not be offered for sale with the estate.”
Mr Minter added: “We are devastated but have finally to take this action in case things are not equitably resolved.”
The estate comprises house and gardens, cottages, a livestock farm, a harbour, golf course and quarry.
A panel set up by the UK government to assess financial compensation from the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority as a result of the contamination only awarded Mr Minter a fraction of the amount he believed he was due, forcing him to place the company into voluntary administration.
Mr Minter had made a claim for millions of pounds after a series of radioactive particles attributed to an underground explosion in a storage pit in the 1970s were discovered on the foreshore of his estate, leading to a decline in the value of the land close to the former nuclear power station on the Pentland Firth coast.
He has spent a fortune on legal fees fighting his case over the past 14 years.
Mr Minter insisted yesterday that the dispute had not yet ended as ministers have been asked to review the compensation award amid “serious concerns” about the panel’s verdict.
James Stephen, the administrator put in charge of Magnohard, believes the panel undervalued the compensation due.
Mr Stephen, a friend of Mr Minter, has questioned whether the panel was properly constituted and accused it of making a decision based on what he described as “wrong assumptions”.
He claims the panel also failed to take advice on the active lifespan of the nuclear waste involved, stating that it was just 30 years instead of the correct 300 years.
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