A Lawyer acting for windfarm objectors has accused council planners of severe malpractice, alleging they have twice prejudged the outcome of public hearings into a proposed development on Skye.
Giovanni di Stefano, whose previous clients have included Saddam Hussein and Harold Shipman, makes the claim in a letter to Communities Minister Malcolm Chisholm.
The letter, on behalf of the Skye Windfarm Action Group (Swag), also alleges that the Scottish Executive has colluded in malpractice surrounding the bid by power giant Amec to build 27 turbines at Edinbane.
It claims the council appeared to predetermine the outcome of a 2002 hearing and is preparing to do the same again in October.
Acceptance of the scheme in 2002 was later overturned following legal advice to the council amid concerns about litigation in the event of peat-slide and possible risk to the local eagle population.
The letter to Mr Chisholm was accompanied by copies of documents which are said to substantiate the claims, including correspondence from Amec and Highland Council planning director John Rennilson.
It claims: “It is clear that permission to connect to the grid prior to the collection of the bird data or peat-slide report indicates that planning permission was a foregone conclusion.
“The executive is colluding with Highland Council in its attempt to predetermine the Edinbane application prior to the period of public consultation or the public hearing.”
Swag chairman John Hodgson said: “We believe this shows that Highland Council cannot be trusted to determine this or any other windfarm application in an open and transparent manner.”
Mr Rennilson said: “It doesn’t raise any new issue. There’s a new committee compared with 2002 and they will deal with it as a fresh application.”
He said the objectors were legitimate to raise issues concerning peat stability and bird-strike.
Asked if he categorically denied that the Edinbane application had been predetermined, Mr Rennilson said: “Yes, absolutely.”
David Hodkinson, managing director of Amec’s wind-energy business, said Swag appeared “desperate to besmirch the reputations of all who dare disagree with its anti-windfarm agenda”.
Police are investigating Swag’s claims about the Edinbane plan.
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