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Energy firm loses £130M Glendoe hydro scheme claim


Scottish and Southern Energy has lost its legal claim against German contractor Hochtief over the collapse of a tunnel at its 100MW Glendoe hydroelectric power scheme in Scotland.

The energy company had been claiming around £130M in damages after fallen rock material caused a collapse in the main 6.2km long headrace tunnel in August 2009, just months after it had opened.

The Court of Session in Edinburgh ruled that the main part of SSE’s claim had failed, although it did award the company £1M for loss of revenue.

Glendoe TBM tunne

Glendoe TBM tunnel

Glendoe headrace tunnel

“I am satisfied that Hochtief did exercise reasonable skill and care,” said judge Lord Woolman.

“I reject SSE’s case as it depends on the accumulation and interpretation of all the data that has been obtained since the collapse. Put short, it is founded on hindsight.”

The court also ruled that Hochtief breached its obligations by not repairing the tunnel, which was carried out instead by Bam Nuttall.

In response to the decision a Scottish and Southern spokeswoman said: “SSE is disappointed with the ruling by the Court of Session on the compensation claim relating to repair work at our Glendoe hydro scheme near Fort Augustus in the Highlands. We will review the decision in more detail and assess our options.”

The written opinion from judge Lord Woolman is an explanation of the issues in the case and reasoning for the decision. A By Order has been fixed for a later date so that final orders can be decided upon then.

Hochtief was contacted but declined to comment.

The Glendoe hydroelectric scheme was constructed between 2006 and 2008. It was the biggest scheme to be built in Scotland for several years, but it failed eight months after take over. After the collapse the scheme did not begin to generate electricity again until August 2012.

Readers' comments (1)

  • I'm no expert on this case's particulars but whomsoever designs, builds and certifies a tunnel, bridge, building, whatever that collapses is at fault and should be held fully liable.

    So it's disappointing to me that the SSE did not win this case.

    Scottish Scientist
    Independent Scientific Adviser for Scotland

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

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