National Park resists 30km of new roads amid loss of 'wildness' around Munros

Scotland’s largest national park has raised concerns over a bid to build 30 kilometres of private road and track through the hills and its impact on the “wildness” of the landscape around the country’s most easterly Munros.

Around 800 hectares of forestry is planned in Glen Clova in Angus, with the development set to add more than one million new trees to the landscape, which falls within Cairngorms National Park.

Initial proposals suggest that 30km of new road and track is required to allow access to the woodland, which is being planned by landowner Hugh Niven.

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    Although a final planning application is yet to be lodged, Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) said it was unlikely to support the proposed new roads given their impact on views across Glen Clova and the “wildness” of the area between Lochnagar and Mount Keen.

    A consultation response from CNPA said: “Based on the information currently submitted, it is predicted that the proposed access tracks are likely to result in significant adverse landscape and visual effects and, collectively, would change the landscape character and Special Landscape Qualities of Glen Clova.

    "It is also predicted that some of the proposed tracks are likely to diminish the wildness attributes of the Lochnagar – Mount Keen Wild Land Area.”

    The woodland, a mix of conifers and native broadleaf, is being developed for a mix of timber production, visual appeal and biodiversity, it is understood, with the landowner potentially set to benefit from lucrative green schemes which encourage tree planting in order to lock up carbon from the atmosphere.

    Estate owner Hugh Niven is proposing to plant around one million trees and build 30km of road and track to support the new forestry in Glen Clova. PIC: SWNS.

    Agents for the landowner are working with Scottish Forestry, the regulators for woodland creation and forestry roads, on an environmental impact assessment following a consultation on initial plans lodged with Angus Council.

    The park authority has made several recommendations on level of detail required but said the final application still may not be supported. It said the tracks were not necessary until timber was extracted “several decades down the line” with their impact on the landscape and views likely to be felt for a “long period” until trees were mature enough to shield the routes.

    CNPA is likely to “call in” the full final application once it is lodged with Angus Council in order to make a final decision on the proposals, given the sensitivities surrounding the development.

    Cameron Maxwell, conservator at Scottish Forestry, who covers the Glen Clova area, said: “Scottish Forestry is the regulator for woodland creation including the creation of forest roads and tracks related to the proposal.

    Afton in Glen Clova, one of the locations where new woodland and forestry tracks are planned, with concerns raised by Cairngorms National Park Authority about the impact the routes will have on the landscape. PIC: Oliver Dixon /geograph.org.

    "We work closely with the Cairngorms National park Authority on the assessment of the woodland creation proposal and the proposed roads and tracks.

    "We are at a relatively early stage in the consideration of the roads and tracks. We are working closely with the applicant to ensure that the proposal meets the requirements of the UK Forestry Standard (the government’s approach to sustainable forest management) as well as the national park’s forestry strategy.

    "We will assess the proposal against a range of issues including landscape, biodiversity, archaeology, people and communities, recreation and access, water, soils and climate change.”

    Scotland on Sunday was unable to reach Mr Niven for comment.

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