STEPAL successful in limiting costs of legal action over new Madras College

Plans for the new Madras College could be further delayed.
Plans for the new Madras College could be further delayed.

An organisation opposed to the plans for a new Madras College at Pipeland has secured an order which will limit its costs if its latest legal challenge is unsuccessful.

Planning permission has been granted for a new school at the Pipeland Farm site on the outskirts of St Andrews.

But the St Andrews Environmental Protection Association Limited (STEPAL) is challenging this decision through the courts.

STEPAL sought a judicial review of the planning process, and lodged a petition which questioned the legality of the decision to grant planning permission for the new school.

Following a hearing at the Court of Session end of last year, Lord Docherty issued a ruling in March refusing the petition.

However, STEPAL appealed against the judge’s ruling – continuing its legal challenge.

It also applied for a Protected Expenses Order (PEO) to cover its appeal. This was granted following a hearing before Lord Drummond Young in the Court of Session yesterday (Thursday, June 18).

Lord Drummond Young rejected Fife Council’s opposition to the PEO for the next stage of the proceedings, and granted STEPAL’s motion limiting its liability for Fife Council’s and Hermiston Securities’ costs in the event of an unsuccessful outcome.

Costs for the PEO motion were awarded against Fife Council and Hermiston.

Mary Jack, on behalf of STEPAL, welcomed the decision.

She said: “This will enable the challenge to continue to the next stage and ensure that the previous decision is reviewed.

“It means that STEPAL can continue its campaign to achieve a better outcome for Madras College and its pupils in the knowledge that the full costs of the action can be anticipated and budgeted for.

“STEPAL’s fundraising will continue. Members of the community who share STEPAL’s vision of a well located first class school and the prevention of serious damage to St Andrews’ green belt are invited to contribute to the campaign funds.

“All donations will be warmly welcomed.”

This latest ruling is a blow to Fife Council which has claimed the delay in the project has already cost £3 million.

When STEPAL announced in April that it would be appealing against Lord Docherty’s decision, Council leader David Ross insisted Fife Council would be “pursuing STEPAL vigorously for full reimbursement of the costs associated with this process”.

Councillor Ross also accused STEPAL of delaying tactics, suggesting the association was hoping that Fife Council would somehow give up on building a new school in St Andrews.

However, he stressed: “I want to be very clear to STEPAL and their financial backers that Fife Council is absolutely determined to push on with the replacement of the current Madras facilities with the much-needed, new, purpose-built school at Pipeland.”