The attempt by four crofting townships – Aignish, Melbost and Branahuie, Samdwick and Sandwick East Street and Sandwickhill North Street – to appeal, in the Scottish Land Court, the Crofting Commission’s decision to refuse their Section 50B applications, has been rejected. The Stornoway Trust consider that another key milestone, albeit an unnecessary one, has been passed with this decision in the community landlord’s favour.
The Trust is relieved that the decisions of both the Scottish Land Court and the Crofting Commission clearly recognise the importance of what the Trust is seeking to achieve in the wider interest of the community, despite the manner in which the obstructive actions of those few townships attempted to put that at risk for all.
The Trust has maintained from the outset that development of the type proposed by the townships was incapable of meeting the legislative requirements clearly spelt out in the Crofters (Scotland) Act 1993 and was disappointed to find that some crofters were persuaded otherwise. Of equal concern to the Trust was that, by their actions, the townships were actually undermining the case for the interconnector cable upon which any development – including their own project – would also depend.
This fact was, however, not lost on the Commission, which stated that the townships’ proposals were to the detriment of the landlord, a view upheld by the Land Court, which, in recognising that the landlord is the community in this case, stated that “the 50B schemes are not just potentially detrimental to the Trust’s plans, they are potentially fatal.”
Trust Chairman, Norman A. Maciver stated that the Trust was pleased with the findings of both the Commission and Land Court.
“I wish to express the Trust’s appreciation for the legal assistance ably provided by Anderson Macarthur and Advocate BJ Gill, to help the Trust defend the actions raised by the townships. This has been an expensive process we have had to pursue to protect the best interests of not only the other ten townships but those who seem to have unwittingly signed up to the derailing attempts of those leading the actions.”
While the Court is still to rule on how the expenses for the hearing will be met, the Trust is conscious of ongoing attempts by the same townships to prevent the Court approval of the Stornoway Wind Farm Section 19a application.
Trust Factor Iain M. Maciver stated that the hearings, scheduled for late October, will hopefully determine the fairness of what the Trust has negotiated on behalf of the crofting interest, with some of the townships standing to receive in excess of £200, 000 per annum should the Scheme be approved.
“With the Land Court judgements now known on both the Druim Leathann Scheme at Tolsta and these 50B Appeals, I would hope that the objectors reflect on their position, as continuing on their current path could have serious financial consequences, both for the crofters and the community, whether they win or lose their case.”