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Legal action plan over wind farm 

Campaigners may take legal action to overturn a council decision to approve a Ross-shire wind farm.

They claim a decision by the old Ross-shire committee to signal approval of 17 turbines at Lochluichart Estate was “seriously flawed”, unfair and could prejudice future decisions.

Campaigners yesterday revealed they are reactivating the campaign website, calling for fresh objections by July 6 and consulting planning experts with a view to seeking Judicial Review.

In a letter to Highland Council head of planning, Mr John Rennilson, planning consultants for Stop Lochluichart say the committee took a decision on a non-existent application.

It was asked to decide on a 22-turbine application but instead opted to signal its approval for 17-turbines although no application had been made for the lower number.

Planners had recommended refusal of the original 22 turbine application when it came before the last meeting of the old Ross shire Area Committee in April .

But in a last minute move councillors said they would have no objection to 17 turbines after they were told planning officer David Mudie had written to the developer indicating 17 would be acceptable.

Now the Scottish Executive has confirmed that there will have to be a new consultation process for the 17-turbine application.

But in their letter to the council Stop Lochluichart consultants say: ” It very much seems that the “decision” of the Committee will inevitably prejudice that consultation process as the Council’s view has been formed before the consultation process has begun”

Legal action could easily be avoided if the new application and reports are put before councillors say campaigners . A judicial review is a fast track legal method for examining decisions taken by official bodies.

A Stop Lochluichart spokesman said: ” We now have just a few weeks to to lobby the new council and lodge written or email objections via the website by July 6.”

Charles Sandham Chief Executive of INFINERGY, the consortium behind the Lochluichart scheme, stated: “I do not believe there is a case for legal action over the decision made by Highland Council’s Planning Committee on the Lochluichart Wind Farm proposal.”

“The company is confident that the Council acted properly in voting not to object to the application, subject to the removal of five turbines.

At the meeting in April, the Chairman of the Planning Committee asked the principal objector Mr George Seligman, and his planning advisor Ian Kelly, whether they were satisfied with the hearing procedure. Both publicly confirmed that they were satisfied and their complaints arose only after they lost the vote”.

Ross-shire Journal

14 June 2007

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