Here you can find details of our current campaigns, a selection of responses that the SWLG has made to recent consultations and development proposals, along with recent articles from Wild Land News. Please feel free to contact us (email@example.com) if you would like any more information on any of these or would like us to respond to/act on other issues not mentioned here.
Background to the issue
Poorly constructed hilltracks which cause landscape and environmental damage have been a concern to environmental groups for decades, especially as no planning permission is required if they are for agricultural or forestry purposes. Following a campaign by the LINK hilltracks group, since December 2014 all landowners must give prior notification to local authorities of their intention to construct new hill tracks or carry out improvements of existing tracks. They still don’t need to apply for full planning permission so tracks can’t be refused permission, but it’s hoped that the need for prior notification will improve construction standards. The LINK Hilltracks group has been monitoring local authority planning websites looking for new proposals and expressing concerns or giving comments on specific tracks. In addition we have participated as stakeholders in a government review of the prior notification process and are awaiting the report of that review.
We now need help in assessing whether this prior notification process has been effective in improving the standard of tracks and their impact on the environment and landscape. We also need to know if there are still new tracks appearing which have not gone through any planning process at all.
What do we need?
Can you offer to spend a regular 15 minutes a week [any day] on checking a local authority website for planning applications? We would need you to send us a very brief note of your findings, including nil returns. You would find nil returns most of the time. If you find anything we just need around four basic facts that you would get from the local authority item on its website. Problems when you will be away? No problem – just let us know and cover will be arranged while you are away. So you see, there is no excuse for not volunteering to help! For details please e-mail Beryl at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What to look for
Tracks associated with windfarms and small scale hydro developments have full planning permission, and although their construction often leaves a lot to be desired, these do not come into the current exercise.
Where to send your information
Email photos with your name and contact details to email@example.com. In addition you are welcome to Tweet a photo using the hashtag #hilltracks and we will look out for it.
Thanks in advance for any information you can gather. All these efforts, however small, will hopefully contribute to reducing damage to Scotland’s landscapes and environment.
LINK Hilltracks campaign group members are: Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland, Cairngorms Campaign, National Trust for Scotland, North East Mountain Trust, Ramblers Scotland, RSPB Scotland, Scottish Campaign for National Parks, and ourselves the Scottish Wild Land Group.
We have also been supported by the John Muir Trust and Mountaineering Council of Scotland.
Campaigns & Consultation Responses
Ardessie Burn hydro scheme - our objection to a terribly inappropriate hydro scheme proposal in the Wester Ross National Scenic Area, one of Scotland's finest - and supposedly most protected - landscapes.
Caplich wind farm - our objection to a proposed wind farm threatening several of Scotland's wildest areas.
Future of Land Reform in Scotland - our response to the Government's consultation.
Talladh-a-Bheithe wind farm - our objection to a wind farm proposal that would industrialise part of Rannoch Moor.
School Wood housing development, Nethy Bridge - our objection to a proposed housing development in the Cairngorms National Park that would destroy an important area of ancient woodland.
'Core Areas of Wild Land' map - the SWLG's response to Scottish Natural Heritage's consultation on their 2013 Core Areas of Wild Land map, which may be adopted by the Scottish Government for use in planning policy.
'Sustainability and Planning' consultation - the SWLG's response to the Scottish Government's consultation on 'sustainable economic growth' and 'sustainable development' as priorities in planning policy.
Hill tracks campaign - launched in June 2013 in partnership with several other organisations, an appeal for members of the public to help stop the spread of hill tracks. This continues our long-running campaign to persuade the Government to bring unregulated hill tracks into the planning system.
National Planning Framework and Scottish Planning Policy - The SWLG's responses to the Government's consultations on the National Planning Framework (NPF3) and Scottish Planning Policy from July 2013 can be found here.
Wild land protection (National Planning Framework) - The SWLG responded to the Government's consultations on the National Planning Framework and Scottish Planning Policy (above). We also wrote a joint letter with 7 other Scottish environmental groups to urge the Government to give wild land meaningful protection.
Scarista wind turbine - SWLG objection to a proposed turbine at Scarista, on the coast of Harris.
Stronelairg wind farm - SWLG objection to large wind farm proposed for the heart of the Monadhliath mountains
Bhlaraidh wind farm - The SWLG objection to this proposed wind farm above Loch Ness
Nathro Hill wind farm - The SWLG objection to the wind farm proposed for Nathro Hill in Angus
Cairngorms New Town - The SWLG was recently involved in a legal challenge to prevent the construction of a new town in the Cairngorms National Park. Tim Ambrose gives the background to the case and an update on its progress. Disappointingly, the challenge was rejected in September 2012. The Cairngorms Campaign is leading an appeal against this judgement, with the SWLG's support - please help to fund this appeal if you can.
Hill tracks - response to the Scottish Government's proposed amendments to the General Permitted Development Amendment Order that would remove automatic Permitted Development Rights from hill tracks. Background to the SWLG's position can be found in this article from the Spring 2010 issue of Wild Land News.
Woodland Expansion - response to the Woodland Expansion Advisory Group's consultation on plans to increase woodland cover in Scotland. The final report can be found here.
Land Value Taxation - the essential reform - John Digney argues for an overhaul of taxation to reflect fundamental important of land to society as a whole.
Raptor persecution: 'a national disgrace' - Bob McMillan, former Assistant Chief Constable of Taydside Police and 'lead officer' on wildlife crime in Scotland argues that more needs to be done to tackle widespread persecution of Scotland's birds of prey.
The Tay Beavers - Louise Ramsay of the Scottish Wild Beaver Group provides an update on the population of wild beavers living on the Tay.