Firm's fine for work on Ann Gloag's Beaufort Estate cut
A firm fined for carrying out illegal works on a burn on Stagecoach co-founder Ann Gloag's Highlands estate has had its penalty reduced.
SD Cameron pled guilty at Inverness Sheriff Court in August to deepening and widening part of the Belldrum Burn on Beaufort Estate, near Beauly.
The company lodged an appeal at the Justiciary Appeal Court in Edinburgh challenging the £30,000 it was fined.
Judges have agreed the penalty was excessive and reduced it to £20,000.
In August, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) said the removal of gravel from the bed of the burn had affected its ecology.
Sediment stirred up by the excavation work flowed into the River Beauly.
Sepa was alerted on 28 July 2010.
The agency said its officers were told a large tractor had taken about 20 trailer-loads of stones, gravel and sand from the site.
Sepa said the work had been done without the appropriate licence and had raised the risk of erosion and flooding in the area.
Lord Mackay, who heard the appeal with Lord Brodie, said: "In our opinion the sheriff was perfectly entitled to regard the unauthorised works as constituting a serious offence. They were extensive.
"The appellants carried them out on behalf of the landowner, Mrs Gloag.
"It is reasonable to assume that Mrs Gloag's estate managers were also aware of what was going on.
"On no view were they carried out on the initiative of the appellants."