Donald Trump challenge to Aberdeenshire wind farm fails
The Court of Session has thrown out US businessman and billionaire Donald Trump’s legal challenge to the Scottish Government’s decision to give the green light to the £230 million European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC) in AberdeenBay, which will lie within sight of his championship links course.
Lord Docherty rejected the petition overall and provided a clear decision to the issues brought by the Petitioners, Trump International Golf Club Scotland Limited and Trump Organisation LLC for the review of the Scottish Ministers’ decision (i) not to hold a public inquiry and (ii) to grant consent to Aberdeen Offshore Wind Farm Limited (AOWFL) under Section 36 of the Electricity Act 1989.
Planning permission for this development was originally granted in December 2008 following the application being called-in by the Scottish Ministers. Consent was thereafter applied for by AOWFL to construct and operate an Offshore Wind Deployment Centre which would test turbines in AberdeenBay approximately 2km off the coast, consisting of 11 turbines of up to 100MW in total output.
Lord Docherty was matter of fact in reaching his decision both overall and to the individual matters to be addressed. His decisions were precise, reserving his opinion only in relation to the issue of the Court’s discretion to refuse grant of reduction. However such was on the basis that it was unnecessary to express a view on this point given the absolute rejection of each of Trump’s other arguments.
Speaking after the Court’s decision, Kishwar Sarwar, an Environment, Planning and Renewable Energy specialist at Tods Murray Solicitors said:
“The decision in the Court of Session to dismiss the petition of judicial review as lodged by Donald Trump will be welcomed with a sigh of relief by many developers and those bodies such as UK Renewables and Scottish Renewables – bodies canvassing for renewable development in Scotland and throughout the UK.”
“The grounds for Judicial Review included perceived bias on the part of the First Minister Alex Salmond in granting consent under the Electricity Act 1989, Aberdeen Offshore Wind Farm Limited’s failure to qualify as a competent party under the provisions of being a licence holder or holding a relevant exemption and the perceived unreasonableness of the decision not to allow the matter to go to Public Inquiry.”
“The implications of an alternative finding on any of these points would have carried far reaching ramifications on renewable and indeed other planning decisions taken in the Scottish landscape. Firstly, an alternative decision had the potential to call into question the impartiality of the First Minister in the role as decision maker in all cases where the First Minister’s stance on a particular issue is well documented. Secondly, If the Judicial Review had been successful on the basis that it was unreasonable not to allow the matter to be heard by way of Public Inquiry this would create problems as there has been a clear drive to cut back on the number of Public Inquiries to speed up the planning process and also due to budgetary constraints. Lastly, and most importantly, many recent decisions would have been challengeable on the basis of these two particular grounds had Mr Trump been successful.”