The wrong track

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In his article, “Battle for control of iconic landscape” (Perspective, 3 June) Calum Brown repeats the arguments about hill tracks that he made in a report for Scottish Environment LINK.

That report used photographs taken by members of the public as apparent proof of poor road building, highlighting 11 “case study” farms and estates.

Unfortunately, neither Calum Brown nor LINK made contact with the owners to discuss the reasons for the road works or the standard they would be finished to.

Many photographs showed roads under construction – rather than finished – and conclusions were based on assumptions rather than a factual investigation. In one case, LINK organised a site visit for the planning minister without notifying the owners of the land, thus denying any right of reply.

We replied in a report, The Way Ahead for Constructed Private Tracks. Speaking with landowners involved, we established that Mr Brown’s conclusions were incorrect.

We also highlighted examples of good practice and advocated “best practice” to ensure high standards. We are working with Scottish Natural Heritage and the Moorland Forum on this. Calum Brown’s emotive language 
creates a false impression of a battle between the people and landowners.

Mr Brown is a member of the Scottish Wild Land Group, which believes there should be little or no evidence of modern man in the landscapes of remote parts of Scotland.

However, we would point out that land-based businesses are vital to the rural economy. Rather than seek to further regulate an already heavily regulated sector at even more cost to the public purse, it would make sense to work with these businesses in a co-operative manner for the benefit of everyone.

Tim Baynes

Director, Scottish Land & Estates Moorland Group

Scottish Land & Estates