Petition by the John Muir Trust for Judicial Review of a decision of the Scottish Ministers dated 6th June, 2014, 4 December 2015 –Judicial review of Ministers’ decision to grant consent for Stronelairg wind farm

Outer House case in which the John Muir trust sought reduction of the Scottish Ministers decision to grant consent for the construction of 67 wind turbines at Stronelairg near Fort Augustus.

In their decision letter the Ministers intimated that they had decided not to hold a public local inquiry stating that they had taken into account 96 objections “and all material considerations”.  They expressed the view that there were no significant issues which had not been adequately considered “in the application, Environmental Statement and Supplementary Environmental Information, consultation responses and third-party representations” and that they had had sufficient information to be able to make an informed decision on the application without the need for a public local inquiry.

The trust argued challenged the consent on the basis that the Ministers acted unlawfully and/or unreasonably in granting the consent:

  • without the advertising of, and/or consulting on, the supplementary environmental information; and
  • without giving adequate reasons for not following Scottish Natural Heritage advice (SNH having objected in principle to the wind farm on the ground of its impact on wild land).

The trust also argued that the reasons given in the decision letter for granting the consent were inadequate.

Lord Jones found that the trust’s challenge to the Ministers’ decision should succeed for the following reasons.

  • A report recommending that Highland Council did not to object to the wind farm on condition that the developer make changes to the layout of the proposed wind farm was additional information which had required advertisement and/or consultation (in terms of The Electricity Works (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Scotland) Regulations 2000 and Environmental Impact Assessment Directive 2011/92/EU).
  • The Ministers decision letter did not take into account SNH’s objection in principle to the wind farm (on the basis that it would have significant adverse impacts resulting in a loss of wild land and that it was not possible to mitigate those impacts).
  • With regard to SNH’s objection in principle to the wind farm, the Ministers had failed to give adequate reasons for their decision in the decision letter.

The full judgement is available from Scottish Courts here.

(NB: See appeal to the Inner House here.)

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