NEMT Letter About CNP Signs

To: Director of Planning Aberdeenshire Council

Dear Sir

APP/2005/0379-0384, Advertisement consent for siting of granite signs at Ordie, Glenkindie, Glenshee, Bridge O' Ess and Rippachie

I am writing to you on behalf of the North East Mountain Trust in connection with the requests for advertisement consent at the above locations which have been submitted to you by the Cairngorms National Park Authority. I am conscious in doing so that we have already passed the formal deadline for submissions but, as we have only been made aware of these requests in the last few days, it has not been possible for us to comment sooner. I hope, therefore, that it will still be possible for our views to be taken into consideration. The North East Mountain Trust represents well over 13,000 climbers and walkers, mainly resident in North-East Scotland, but including some in other areas of Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom. Its primary remit, as stated above, is to promote the conservation of mountain and coastal environments in Scotland.

NEMT supports the principle of National Parks and welcomed (with some reservations) the establishment of the Cairngorms National Park. It is in that light that we offer our views on the Park Authority's request to erect the signs in question. We recognise that the Park Authority has an understandable desire to establish the identity of the Park in the public mind. Nonetheless we do have some concerns about this proposal. We understand that the sites in question are all located in areas which the Aberdeenshire Local Plan identifies as Areas of Landscape Significance. We would therefore ask the Council to consider whether these proposals are indeed acceptable in terms of the criteria laid down in Policy Env\5 and whether, if acceptable in principle, the specific proposals do indeed conform to “the highest standards of design, in terms of location, scale, siting, aesthetics and landscaping”.

In our view, the number and scale of the signs proposed is excessive to the extent of detracting from the National Park's primary purpose of conserving the environment. The proposals also appear to run counter to Policy Gen\9 which states that “Outwith settlements, advertisements will be refused unless they are directional or advance warning signs for business or tourist facilities that are not reasonably visible from any main road.”

In the event that the Council considers that sufficiently extenuating circumstances exist to justify departing from established policies, we would argue that the specific proposals are unjustified in their proposed scale and in elements of their design. Although the proposals are for granite signs, it is not clear that this would be local granite and we believe that the bedrock in the proposed locations is in any case not, or is not predominantly, granite. We believe that materials should be locally sourced and should be in harmony with the environmental characteristics of the specific location both in appearance and scale. As far as can be determined from the reproductions submitted with the applications, the visual appearance of the signs proposed would be more in keeping with a cemetery than an area of outstanding landscape and environmental values.

We would urge the Council to think very carefully before approving proposals which detract from the environmental value which the Cairngorms National Park was established to protect.

For and on behalf of the North East Mountain Trust

Will Campbell, General Council Member, 13th March 2005

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