Development can go ahead around Stornoway Airport, following a decision by Scotland’s highest court.

A Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd spokesman said: “It has always been our intention to develop this land, not for profit, but to create affordable, high-quality homes that would benefit local people.

“From the outset we have believed that our position was the correct one and we are thankful the Court of Session has agreed with us.

“It has been a long process to reach where have arrived at today and the decision confirms the whole of the airport is free of crofting rights and we are now free to proceed with our plans.”

The HIAL appeal was heard in late January at the Court of Session in Edinburgh, Scotland’s highest civil appeal court.  This followed a ruling from the Scottish Land Court Thursday February 7th last year in favour of Melbost and Branahuie Grazings Committee and against HIAL over land at Stornoway Airport.

HIAL claimed crofting rights at Stornoway Airport had been extinguished when the land was requisitioned during World War Two to enable an RAF station to be built. 

HIAL was to sell some of the ground to a developer to build 94 new homes but the grazings committee of Melbost and Branahuie objected.

The ruling lasdt year from the Land Court, said: “Notwithstanding that possession of the land in question was acquired by the Air Ministry in or around 1941 and notwithstanding that the landowners were paid compensation based on the permanent loss or restriction of the ability to use that land, the land remains subject to crofting tenure because, for aught yet seen, (i) compulsory purchases were not used to acquire it and (ii) the formalities which would otherwise be required for its release have never been completed.”

The judgement also said that, having assessed all the submissions and other documents, “it seems to us unlikely that any formal process of compulsory acquisition was undergone…”

However, the Court of Session stated that it disagreed this week. Lord Carloway’s judgement said crofters received compensation eight decades ago for giving up the crofting rights.

“From a practical viewpoint, since the arrangements have already been implemented, in so far as the payment and receipt of compensation is concerned, it is difficult to conceive any reason for withholding approval 80 years on.”