The American billionaire Donald Trump will wade into the legal battle over the proposed Viking Energy windfarm – if he gets permission at an Edinburgh hearing tomorrow.
Trump Organization and Trump’s Aberdeenshire golf course have jointly moved to become involved in Sustainable Shetland’s petition against the Viking Energy and Scottish Government appeal, which is due to begin at a procedural hearing in the inner Court of Session.
Mr Trump’s lawyers hope to target the generating licence aspect of the appeal that Sustainable Shetland has had to leave uncontested owing to a lack of money.
The move follows last week’s Court of Session hearing when Trump’s lawyers challenged approval of the 11-turbine offshore windfarm near his Menie golf course, north of Aberdeen. Earlier this year, Lord Woolman rejected a Trump bid to have the offshore windfarm case discharged until after the Viking Energy appeal. It is understood the entire Aberdeenshire windfarm case hinges on the outcome of the generating licence issue, which will not be known for some weeks yet.
Sustainable Shetland chairman Frank Hay distanced his group from Trump’s intervention, which today he said he “had only just learned of”. He added: “There has been absolutely no contact with Donald Trump and we have no plans to have any.”
He denied that there had been any collusion between Sustainable Shetland and Trump Organization or between their QCs, although he said that the legal teams had shared informal contact, which was “not initiated” by Sustainable Shetland.
“It just happened that the same issue has cropped up in his judicial review and the competency issue also applies to us,” he added. “Possibly he [Trump] sees this as the best way to do that.”
He said that Trump could attempt to intervene in the Sustainable Shetland case if he wanted, but that Sustainable Shetland had taken no position on Trump’s move. It was also a possibility, and the preferred option for Sustainable Shetland, that the court might choose a “contradictor”, apart from Donald Trump, to challenge the appeal.
A spokesman for Viking Energy said that the organisation “would not comment on an ongoing court case” – a position they “had maintained throughout the judicial review.”
The latest development comes after judge Lady Clark quashed planning permission for the Viking windfarm on account of its lack of an operating licence and its failure to take account of the EU birds directive. Sustainable Shetland will oppose the Viking and Scottish government appeal on grounds of the birds directive at a hearing in February.