The John Muir Trust has called for a Public Local Inquiry into a proposed 34-turbine wind farm on wild land at Glenmorie in Easter Ross to be put on hold until a series of key legal and political decisions have been clarified. The inquiry is due to start on Monday 21 October. However, the legal basis of the hearing has been thrown into confusion as a result of a landmark ruling in the Court of Session.
On the 2nd October, following a judicial review, Lady Clark of Calton ruled planning consent for the Viking Wind Farm in Shetland was unlawful on several grounds – one of which was that the developer did not have an electricity generating license. It has since emerged that the company behind the Glenmorie development, Wind Energy, is also not a registered electricity licensee, which suggests that the Glenmorie application is also unlawful. The Scottish Government is appealing Lady Clark’s decision.
Helen McDade, the John Muir Trust’s head of policy, explained that until the legal position had been clarified “there is no point in wasting up to £100,000 on a Public Local Inquiry. If the appeal court upholds Lady Clark’s decision, the developer will have to resubmit its proposal from scratch, thus rendering meaningless the deliberations of the Public Local Inquiry.“
The Trust also believes that the Inquiry should be postponed until the Scottish Government’s Core Wild Land map has been finalised. Proposed changes to Scottish Planning Policy would mean a presumption against large scale development in 43 delineated areas of Core Wild Land, which includes Glenmorie. The map is about to go out to public consultation.
Ms McDade added: “Until the Core Wild Land map is finalised, a key element of the inquiry will become bogged down in speculation. The John Muir Trust is clear that the Glenmorie site is on wild land, but we expect the developers to dispute that point. It makes sense to delay the inquiry until the boundaries of the map have been finalised so that the inquiry can deal in facts rather than conjecture. We would urge the Scottish Government, in the interests of clarity, efficiency and the public purse, to put the Glenmorie Public Local Inquiry on hold until these unknown quantities can be clarified.”