A recent report published by Scottish Environmental Link representing nine national conservation organisations including the National Trust for Scotland, the RSPB and the John Muir Trust, shows the shocking damage unregulated hill tracks are doing to Scotland’s wild landscapes and scenery, one of its most valuable economic assets.
This is an issue which governments have repeatedly considered but failed to act on for decades.
If the current administration is serious about protecting Scotland’s assets, it should move swiftly to bring these developments, some of which are on a huge scale stretching over miles of countryside, under planning control.
No better place to start than for Fergus Ewing, minister for energy and tourism, and Derek Mackay, minister for local government and planning, to put a stop to the retention of the access tracks for the construction of the Beauly-Denny transmission line.
These massive roads needed for heavy construction equipment are supposed to be temporary. They currently scar the landscape from Stirling to the Moray Firth, carving their way across more than 100 miles of scenery beloved by every visitor to Scotland. These access tracks are not required by Scottish and Southern Energy; no pylon lines require access along them for maintenance.
It was a condition of the approval of the line that the tracks be removed, yet Perth and Kinross has already allowed landowners at four sites to retain these tracks, and the Cairngorm National Park is considering three applications.
By standing idly by while major damage is done to our finest scenery, having given an unequivocal commitment to remove these tracks, the SNP government is putting the private interest of a few landowners before the wider interest of the tourist industry.
J P Thomas