A hearing that is likely to be the final round of the legal battle between Sustainable Shetland (SuS) and the backers of Viking Windfarm is scheduled for Thursday 18th December at the Supreme Court in London.
While the 18th December date, brought forward at the request of the Scottish government from June next year, is provisional, a decision by the justices on the one-day hearing is not expected to be delivered till next year.
If SuS lose, they have no further court channels to pursue and the legal barriers to the development will all have been removed, but the Supreme Court does have the option of referring the case to the European Court of Justice.
If SuS wins, then the hilltops and views around Shetland will be spared from the construction of 103 large wind turbines and their associated infrastructure. On the other hand, windfarm supporters argue if the joint venture between Viking Energy and SSE does not go ahead Shetland could be starved of a vital multi-million pound cash lifeline in times of greatly declining revenue from oil and reduced government subsidy.
SuS supporters decided unanimously at a meeting in the Bixter Hall on Tuesday night to press on with the long-running battle after learning last week that their liabilities to the defenders in the case of loss will be £5,000. Along with a High Court protective expenses order, that brings their total liabilities to the Scottish government, if SuS loses, to £10,000.
SuS vice-chairman James MacKenzie said that an intensive period of fund-raising will follow to pay for the estimated £40,000 legal costs of the Supreme Court appeal but that a stake of less than £5,000 is all that is required before the hearing.
If the Scottish government loses, its liability to SuS is believed to be limited to £60,000 for the Supreme Court hearing, with previous court action bringing its total liability in event of loss to around £165,000.
Mr MacKenzie said that the Bixter meeting had been “pretty well attended” given the short notice involved. “It was very encouraging that the will to press on is there,” he added.