Recent News from The SWLG

Scotland's Wild Land is Under Threat

An article published on 21st March 2022 in the online magazines UKHillwalking and UKClimbing explains the threat to wild land and what you can do to promote its stronger protection. Read the article here.

Wild Land Needs Your Help Now

The Scottish Government's National Planning Framework 4 is currently out for consultation. This will decide if, and how, wild land is to be treated in the planning system.

We need you to show your support by responding to the consultation document and/or contacting your MSP. For more details on how you can help, see this document.

The State of Wild Land in the Scottish Highlands

Scotland is renowned the world over for its wild and spectacular scenery of mountains, moorlands, lochs and rivers and coasts, a draw to locals and visitors alike. Those areas with least human impact have been labelled as ‘Wild Land Areas’ by NatureScot, and research shows that there is strong support from the Scottish people to retain the wildness of these areas.

Our wildest places and scenery need strong protection so they can be seen and enjoyed by future generations.

However a newly published report The State of Wild Land in the Scottish Highlands shows that this wildness is in long-term decline because of the continuing pressure for development, both within the Wild Land Areas and around their fringes.

The report concludes that the overall rate of loss appears to be increasing as the scale of development has also increased. Current developments that pose the greatest threat are energy generation and associated infrastructure (hydro-electric schemes and wind farms), plantation forest expansion and hill track construction, the latter often associated with estate management. This long-term attrition of wild land is not helped by the fact that there has been a lack of consistency by planning authorities in the way they have handled its protection from new developments.

The Scottish Government is currently consulting on its strategic plans for the country through the draft National Planning Framework 4 [the consultation runs until 31 March 2022]. If Scotland, and particularly the Highlands, is to retain its reputation for its iconic scenery, it is imperative that the importance of its protection, including its wildness, is fully recognised in the new Framework. This includes stronger protection for Wild Land Areas than is currently envisaged.

Dr James Fenton of the Scottish Wild Land Group, who coordinated the report, says:

“There has long been a mismatch between the commonly stated view that the Highlands are renowned for their scenery and the practical measures in place for its protection. This report should be a wake-up call for us all to realise that the Highland landscape is under threat from ill-sited development.

“If we really do care for our scenery, we must ensure that there is strong protection for it in the planning system, including the Wild Land Areas. Otherwise attrition of this fantastic asset will continue apace, and, in time, future generations will inherit an impoverished landscape.

“Of course we need development in the Highlands, but it must be in the right place and not destroy what is the essence of the Highland mountain landscape.”


Report details

The report was commissioned by the Scottish Wild Land Group in association with the Scottish Mountaineering Trust and The Cairngorms Campaign, all of which are voluntary organisation with a keen interest in the protection of wild land. The research was undertaken by Wildland Research Ltd, who have long-running experience in the mapping and evaluation of wild land in Scotland, and by the Ian Kelly Planning Consultancy Ltd, who have particular expertise in looking at the impact of renewable energy schemes on wild land. A sample of four Wild Land Areas were analysed in detail to show the landscape changes which have occurred from the 1750s to the present day.

Please read this report and use its conclusions to feed into the current Scottish Government consultation on the new National Planning Framework 4: we need to ensure that wild land receives strong protection from inappropriate development. The deadline for responses is 31 March 2022.


View or download here:

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Report Summary

2021 AGM: Saturday 4th December

This was a virtual AGM taking place via Zoom.

As discussed at this meeting the draft minutes of the 2020 AGM can be viewed here. If anyone has anything to contribute please contact us.

Also available to view are the final Trustees Annual Report and Accounts to 31st March 2021 and the proposed SWLGSCIO constitution can be viewed by clicking on the blue text.

Wild Land News 99 (Summer 2021)

This newsletter is now completed and is available. It can be viewed or downloaded as a pdf here.

Fight for Scotland's Nature Campaign

Scottish Environment LINK the forum for Scotland's voluntary environment community, with 41 member bodies including the SWLG, with the common goal of contributing to a more environmentally sustainable society, has launched an e-action campaign for nature recovery targets.

For details of the campaign and how to participate visit https://www.fightforscotlandsnature.scot

On Tuesday 31 August, LINK sent Minister for Environment, Biodiversity and Land Reform Màiri McAllan a MyAlbum presentation of a selection of the messages submitted through the Fight for Scotland's Nature e-action, along with a spreadsheet containing all the 1,250+ messages. The presentation can be viewed here: https://myalbum.com/album/7wNDTRSmrSJG

Manifesto for the Outdoors

SORA, the Scottish Outdoor Recreation Alliance, an organization supported by the SWLG, have produced a manifesto containing innovative ideas for supporting the booming demand for the outdoors. The manifesto can be viewed as a pdf here and a press release has been published on the Ramblers website.

Wild Land News 98 (Winter 2020/21)

This Newsletter is now completed and is now available. The newsletter contains an excellent article by Dave Jarman on hydro-schemes. Associated with this is his Rogues' Gallery of poor quality schemes which can be viewed here. Readers may also be interested in the website researching the proposed hydro schemes in Glen Etive. The complete newsletter can be downloaded as a pdf here.