IT’S something many of us have been campaigning for – new planning controls to stop the current plague of badly made and unnecessary hill tracks on the Scottish hills.
Today, Derek Mackay, the Planning Minister has announced new planning controls to help safeguard the Scottish countryside from what has become a real blight on the landscapes of Scotland.
Mr Mackay has introduced a “prior notification and approval process” which will allow planning authorities to consider how proposed tracks will impact on the environment and allow them to intervene to ensure that the design, siting and appearance are acceptable.
The requirements will be introduced across the country later this year, and will be an extension of existing prior notifications under Class 18 agriculture and Class 22 forestry which currently apply to tracks in natural scenic areas.
“These new controls will ask planning authorities to weigh up proposals and consider all aspects of where the hilltracks will be built, while at the same time allowing work that does not have an adverse impact to proceed with minimal delay or costs,” said Mr Mackay.
Historically, agricultural and forestry tracks could be constructed and upgraded under permitted development rights, meaning that provided they met certain criteria a planning application was not required.
Tracks for any other purpose (leisure, sport shooting, etc) do not benefit from the permitted development rights; they require, and always have required, a planning application to be made and permission granted.
Unfortunately there has been a real spate of hilltracks built that are very obviously created for shooting purposes, but the various land agents have claimed them to be for agricultural or forestry use, which means they wouldn’t have required planning permission.
Hopefully these new controls will considerably tighten up the process and stop rogue landowners building poorly constructed tracks that both deface and destroy the landscape, all so that they can get a few more shooting clients closer to their targets.