Energy company wanted £350k from environment charity
A charity has agreed to pay costs to an energy company following a failed attempt to stop a wind farm.
The John Muir Trust (JMT) will pay £50,000 to Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) in final settlement of court costs for the Stronelairg legal case.
This will bring its campaign against the Stronelairg wind farm development to a conclusion.
The trust initially won a review against the giant wind farm in the heart of Monadliath mountains in the Highlands, but the decision was later overturned by appeal judges.
Politicians had argued that the trust should not have to pay a penny as it brought its case in the public interest.
SSE were chasing the JMT for crippling costs of £350,000, but have agreed on the £50,000 figure. It has already settled with the Scottish Government on the issue, paying out £75,000.
Helen McDade, head of policy at the John Muir Trust, said: “The trust took this legal case because the Stronelairg development will destroy a large area of wild land.
“We believed that the consent of a massive windfarm in the Monadhliath mountains was the result of a defective planning process.
“The trust won the initial judicial review with the judge stating that the case was taken in the public interest. Losing the case at appeal more than doubled the trust’s potential liability and prevented us from continued action. This case has highlighted in planning and legal circles the urgent need for planning reform.
“Two weeks ago SSE were pursuing the trust for costs of £350,000, which would have been devastating for any environmental organisation and a deterrent for anyone that might consider seeking environmental justice in the future.
“Naturally the John Muir Trust is relieved to have negotiated to reach a much reduced settlement.
“The generosity of more than a thousand supporters means that the trust could take this important case on behalf of people and nature. Undeterred, we will continue to stand up for wild places, while working towards a sustainable future.”
SSE said the cash will go towards the Visit Inverness South Loch Ness trail project, which will complete a walking and cycling track round the whole of the loch.
A spokesman said: "We're pleased to reach a reasonable conclusion with the trust.
"We are also happy to be anle to gift those funds to the excellent South Loch Ness trail project."