Opponents of one of Scotland’s biggest wind farms will avoid financial crisis if they fail in a court action to block the plans.
The group, Sustainable Shetland, has secured a protective expenses order at the Court of Session in Edinburgh, meaning it will be liable for a maximum of £5,000 should Scottish ministers defeat its attempt to stop a 103-turbine farm on moorland on the islands.
The project is the third biggest in the country and will provide enough power for 175,000 homes. The Scottish Government has said it will “bring enormous benefits to the people of Shetland” but campaigners are concerned over the impact on the landscape and the whimbrel, a protected migratory wading bird.
Sustainable Shetland is seeking a judicial review of approval of the scheme, and claims ministers acted unlawfully or unreasonably in not holding a public inquiry before giving the go-ahead.
At a preliminary hearing, Lord Doherty was told that the parties had agreed a protective expenses order would be appropriate, and the judge said he was satisfied that an order should be made.
In a separate case, three appeal judges upheld a decision by ministers to refuse planning permission for a 14-turbine wind farm at Stacain, near Inveraray, Argyll. The site lies in a special protection area which has 19 pairs of golden eagles.
Bagmoor Wind Ltd has sought planning permission since 2005, and argued that inadequate reasons had been given for the refusal. However, the judges ruled that there had been no breach of the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997.