Legal challenge to Alyth windfarm fails to sway Court of Session

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A shepherd has lost her latest court battle against a windfarm on the Angus and Perthshire border, despite her concerns about “highly protected” local wildlife.

Helen Douglas took RDS Element Power to the Court of Session in an attempt to stop plans for seven wind turbines at Tullymurdoch Farm near Alyth.

Locals have spent five years compiling evidence that wildcat and osprey live within 300 metres of the windfarm.

After that action failed in December, Ms Douglas applied for a judicial review of Perth and Kinross Council’s latest approval for 11.8 miles of underground cabling towards Coupar Angus, and larger blades for some turbines.

Sir Crispin Agnew QC said her grounds of challenge were that the council acted unlawfully in granting the modifications as it did not have sufficient environmental information about the presence of the animals, had left the possibility of “significant effects” to them by imposing conditions on the development, and gave “inadequate reasons” for its decisions.

Lord Drummond Young stated the court agreed with the Lord Ordinary’s opinion the council acted properly in appointing an environmental clerk of works to oversee the project, and assumed all parties would act “in good faith” if evidence of protected wildlife emerged during construction.

Lord Drummond Young commented: “If further information is provided to the local planning authority in a case such as the present where the planning permission relies on conditions requiring the subsequent assessment of protected species, it must in our view be assumed that the authority will act in good faith and pass the information on to the developer and the ecological clerk of works.

“In addition, Scottish Natural Heritage has been able to provide detailed comments on protected species in the vicinity of the present developments.

“Once again, it must in our opinion be assumed that they will continue to act in good faith…through these routes continued public participation is likely to be achieved, on the assumption that there are members of the public who are interested in the protection of wildlife in the vicinity of the development.”

After the initial Court of Session ruling, Ms Douglas said: “Destruction of our natural heritage masquerades as the pursuit of green energy.

“My sadness after this judgment is immense.”