Sustainable Shetland has lodged a petition at the Court of Session in Edinburgh calling for a judicial review of the Scottish Government’s decision to grant consent for Viking Energy’s huge 103-turbine windfarm.
Energy minister Fergus Ewing gave his approval to the deeply divisive project in April, while late last month Shetland Charitable Trust – which has a 45 per cent stake – approved a further £6.3 million budget towards taking the windfarm to the final decision-making stage.
In a statement issued today, Sustainable Shetland said its grounds for lodging the legal challenge include the potential impact on protected species and landscape and the fact that a public local inquiry was not held.
The Court of Session confirmed that the petition had been received and an initial hearing has been fixed for 24th October, after which a judge will decide whether to sanction the judicial review.
Sustainable Shetland vice-chairman Frank Hay said funds for the expensive legal process had been raised through the organisation’s own voluntary efforts and pledges.
Mr Hay said: “We feel justified in going to the first stage of the judicial review process, and a judge will decide if there’s a case to answer.”
The group is seeking a “protective expenses order”, which would ensure it did not have to pay the other side’s legal costs.
Sustainable Shetland, which has over 800 members, believes there were too many unanswered questions resulting from Mr Ewing’s decision not to order a public local inquiry.
Such an inquiry would have been automatically triggered had the SIC objected to the project, but in December 2010 it voted 9-3 in support. Its planning department had recommended that the council should object on environmental grounds.
Viking opponents also feel that insufficient attention has been paid to the views of those living in the areas which will be most affected by the development.
Today’s statement reads in full: “Sustainable Shetland, a voluntary organisation based in Shetland, has petitioned the Court of Session in Edinburgh to judicially review the decision by Scottish ministers to grant consent under section 36 of the Electricity Act 1989 for the Viking windfarm on Shetland.
“The organisation is seeking a protective expenses order, and is challenging the decision by ministers on grounds including the impact on protected species and landscape and the failure to hold a public local inquiry.”
A Scottish government spokeswoman said: “Scottish ministers are considering this petition and whether to be represented at the hearing. Given that the petition is a live case before the court it would be inappropriate to comment further.”