A legal ruling is expected today which could have major implications for windfarm objectors.
The Court of Session will consider a demand from Highland Council and developers Amec which could establish the precedent that a challenger to a windpark planning decision must prove – in advance – that they have the necessary finances to cover the costs of both parties in the event of defeat.
Their case is against Skye windfarm opponent John Hodgson, who has fought a long battle against plans, recently approved by councillors, for a 17-turbine scheme at Edinbane.
His organisation, the Skye Windfarm Action Group (Swag), was initially granted leave by the Court of Session to challenge the planning consent for the project and a hearing date set for July 2008.
The council and Amec were subsequently granted leave for an earlier hearing date when Lord Clarke accepted the council’s argument that it needed to establish if it was in the wrong in order to address any similar complaints about other windfarms in the planning process.
That hearing will now start on October 2, 2007.
Today’s hearing will consider the court application from Highland Council and Amec for “caution for expenses” to the tune of £120,000.
The council will argue that it has to “protect council tax-payers”.
Swag alleges Highland Council failed to ensure Amec’s planning application was accompanied by a sufficient environmental impact assessment, failed to outline reasons for not considering alternative sites, failed to consider a potential flood risk from the scheme and that there were procedural anomalies concerning planning consent for a borrow pit (quarry).
It also claims the authority breached EU habitats legislation.
EC law states that any such legal challenge “shall be fair, equitable, timely and not prohibitively expensive.”
Fewer than half the members of the council’s planning committee attended the Portree meeting which unanimously approved the Edinbane plan.
6 September 2007
Skye Windfarm Action Group (SWAG): sw-ag.org
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