Bulldozed Tracks

Recently, new bulldozed access tracks have become more of an issue. These are often crudely made and hence create an unsightly scar on the landscape and also are very susceptible to erosion. Unchecked erosion causes silt to run off into the local burns and rivers, which can affect freshwater mussels and fish spawning. It also causes the unsightly scar to grow and become even more unsightly. NEMT has written to Aberdeenshire Council formally objecting to two such tracks recently, both bulldozed through without planning permission.

The first case concerns the work carried out by the Invercauld Estate on tracks built above the Slugain Lodge (map references NO140944 to NO141960). This estate can be seen as one of the better estates. It encourages responsible access and has done a lot of good work on maintaining tracks and paths and, of course, has improved car parking. However, these tracks above the Slugain Lodge, presumably built for access for shooting and stalking are poorly constructed. We understand that the estate is now seeking retrospective planning permission from Aberdeenshire Council.

When contacted, Scottish Natural Heritage objected to the development on the grounds that it does indeed damage the natural heritage. They were concerned:-

They have advised Aberdeenshire Council to only grant retrospective planning permission if adequate mitigating measures are undertaken.

The likely outcome is that one way or another, we will end up with new vehicle tracks in an area that had none. We can only hope that the necessary mitigating measures cause the estate to think twice about future extension of access tracks.

The second case concerns similar work carried out on Morven (map references NJ394031 to NJ394032 and NJ407019 to NJ409020) by the Dinnet and Kinford Estates. To add insult to injury, these sections of track are bulldozed through an SSSI. We understand that these estates sees no need to seek retrospective planning permission, although we hope that they change their mind.

Again, Scottish Natural Heritage has objected on the grounds of visual impact. Again, they have advised Aberdeenshire Council to request adequate mitigating measures. We look forward to the next moves in this case with interest.

In these two cases, we have a powerful ally in the form of Scottish Natural Heritage. We will also be taking up the matter with the new Cairngorms National Park authority to see what their view is.

However, club members have a vital role to play here. In both of these cases, people out walking in the area saw the work and raised the alarm. The NEMT can only alert SNH and Aberdeenshire Council if you tell us about new developments. We can then check to see if planning permission has been granted and, if not, notify the authorities.

David Windle, 10th May 2004

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