LIKE all of Scotland’s outdoor NGO’s I very much welcome the new safeguards for wild land in Scotland as published by the Government today in its new National Planning Framework and Scottish Planning Policy. In total, about 30% of the land mass of Scotland will receive significantly greater protection from developments like large scale wind farms.
Turbines will be completely banned from National Parks and National Scenic Areas, and that move will completely safeguard the finest of our mountain landscapes.
In addition, those areas described as ‘wild land’ in a map of the country drawn up by Scottish Natural Heritage will see a “significant increase” in protection.
These very proposals were flagged up some time ago in a draft document that I wrote about in my column in www.walkhighlands.co.uk and, to be honest, were met with some suspicion by various NGO’s. Despite public criticism and a huge amount of lobbying from the renewables industry, energy companies and some local councils, the Government has very much stuck to its guns and there is very little change from the original proposals.
Part of the reason for that was the huge amount of public support for the complete ban in NP’s and NSA’s and the excellent public response to the second consultation on the SNH wild land map.
I’m going to sit down with a large dram and work my way through the various documents and once I’ve got my head round it all I’ll write a fuller piece for my next column in www.walkhighlands.co.uk. Meanwhile I congratulate the Scottish Government on its boldness in facing up to the lobbying pressures of the energy companies and in publicly agreeing with so many of us that ‘wild land’ is a nationally important asset.
I would fully endorse the comments of the John Muir Trust’s Stuart Brooks who said today: “This recognition of Scotland’s wild land as a nationally important asset that needs to be safeguarded marks a historic breakthrough. Scotland’s landscapes are spectacular, contributing to our quality of life, our national identity and the visitor economy. The John Muir Trust has fought long and hard over many years with the support of many thousands of people to achieve official recognition for wild land and we welcome this commitment.’’