Leading Scottish law firm Gillespie Macandrew and its client have achieved a landmark decision in the development of one of the UK's largest wind farms on croft land. Gillespie Macandrew acted for Viking Energy in its application to the Scottish Land Court for permission to proceed with a wind farm development on central Mainland Shetland, much of which is subject to crofting tenure. For more information see the IDTechEx report on Distributed Generation: Minigrid Microgrid Zero Emission 2018-2038.
The Viking Energy Wind Farm is a joint venture between the local Shetland interests, including Shetland Charitable Trust on behalf of the community, and the utility company SSE. The development will consist of 103 wind turbines with a consented total capacity of up to 457 megawatts.
The wind farm will be located on land held under a mixture of private and public ownership. In the first application for a development of this scale, the Gillespie Macandrew team, led by two of the firm's partners, Amy McDowell and Alan White, utilised Section 19A of The Crofters (Scotland) Act 1993.
Alan White, partner, Gillespie Macandrew's Land and Rural Team, said: "The outcome of this case will benefit over 200 crofters who have rights over the land on which the windfarm will be developed. We sought approval by making an application under s.19A of The Crofters (Scotland) Act 1993 so as to provide our clients with all the rights they required, whilst minimising the impact on the existing use of the land for crofting purposes. Section 19A requires that the Land Court is satisfied that the proposed development is for a reasonable purpose, was not unfair to anyone holding a crofting interest in the area, that there would be fair recompense for the effects of the wind farm, and that the community as a whole would benefit."
The Land Court hearing took place between 2-5 July at the Islesburgh Community Centre in Lerwick, Shetland. The Gillespie Macandrew team worked with Ailsa Wilson QC and Marcus McKay QC and the Court's formal decision granting approval for the development was issued on 6 September 2018.
Amy McDowell, partner, Gillespie Macandrew, Energy, Infrastructure and Strategic Land said: "This was a really positive outcome for our client. The combined expertise of individuals across a range of disciplines, working together with Counsel, expert witnesses and our client's project team has helped to bring this significant renewable energy project one step closer to realisation."
Viking Energy received planning consent for the Viking Windfarm from the Scottish Ministers in April 2012. Having succeeded in defending a challenge to the planning consent in the Supreme Court in (2014) (assisted by Gillespie Macandrew's Planning Law team), securing the consent of the Scottish Land Court under s.19A of the Crofters (Scotland) Act 1993 was a significant next step in bringing the development forward.
Ian Innes, Viking Energy project director commented: "The ruling of the Scottish Land Court is welcomed by the Viking team with our thanks going to Ailsa Wilson QC and Marcus Mckay QC, our legal partner Gillespie Macandrew and our expert witnesses Galbraith, RPS Group and Biggar Economics. The decision is the culmination of work extending over 10 years, during which there has been close engagement with the crofting community in Shetland. We look forward now to working with the crofting community as a whole as we progress the development and look to deliver the benefits, including the wider community benefit fund as acknowledged in the ruling."
Gillespie Macandrew is a leading independent Scottish law firm providing legal services to businesses and individuals and their families. The firm advises clients in land and rural affairs, energy and private client including tax, and has a growing presence in commercial property and corporate business markets. With offices in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Perth, Gillespie Macandrew serves clients from across Scotland and the UK and combines a personal approach alongside sectoral expertise.
Gillespie Macandrew has offices in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Perth and advises on all areas of commercial, private client and property law as well as disputes and tax matters. Gillespie Macandrew puts a particular focus on the training and expertise of its people and over the last five years the headcount has grown by over 50% to 146, all through organic growth. This is also due to the Training Academy for staff which has seen five promoted to partnership since it began.
In the year to March 2018, the firm reported its sixth year of positive growth with an almost 6% rise in turnover and 8% growth in profit. Partners in Gillespie Macandrew donate 1% of their pre-tax profits to charity every year - the total donated over the past 3 years is £80,000. Staff at Gillespie Macandrew are given a paid day off each year to participate in charitable or corporate and social responsibility events and the firm's partners and staff spent almost 200 "person-days" working with Rossie Young People's' Trust, near Montrose, in the past four years.
Source: Gillespie Macandrew
Top image: Shetland Heritage Association