...its wild land! NEMTs concerns, shared by a number of other recreational and environmental groups, is the erosion of Scotlands best wild land. Various developments can contributed to this, inappropriately sited wind farms being just one of these. Data collected by Scottish Natural Heritage suggests that there has been a major decrease in recent years in the area of Scotland unaffected by visual impact from built development.
NEMT has expended much effort over the past decade trying to address the issue of badly constructed and often illegal hill tracks bulldozed in the wider Cairngorms area. These have been constructed primarily to facilitated easy access to grouse moors.
The Scottish Government ran a consultation last year on the issue of General Permitted Development Orders, the legal mechanism which covers a wide range of planning issues of which hill tracks are but one. Currently the law allows tracks to be constructed without planning consent if they are for agricultural or forestry use. Many tracks are claimed to be for such purposes when there is scant evidence that they are. Once bulldozed, it is highly unlikely that the authorities will demand that they be removed.
NEMT responded to this consultation by arguing that greater, and less ambiguous, legal control must be put in place. The good news is that the Government agrees. It is proposing that the law be changed to require all hill tracks to be subject to planning consent. This is subject to further consultation and both NEMT and Scottish Environmental LINK will be writing to support the proposal.
A number of bodies have come to the conclusion that, whilst objecting to particular proposals where these effect wild land remains necessary, a more strategic response to the problem is required. The Government should take the lead by addressing the issue of where such developments are acceptable and where they are damaging to our finest senery. Such damage has potential economic detriments in terms of tourism. To this end, NEMT has approached the Mountaineering Council of Scotland regarding working together on a political approach to the issue.
In respect of individual developments, Allt Duine, a proposed major wind farm on the Monadhliath just north of Kincraig. is now in the hands of the Scottish Government. NEMT added its voice to objections by the Cairngorms National Park, Highland Council, and others. This development would have a significant visual impact from the hills stretching from Grantown to Glen Feshie and beyond.
NEMT has objected to the proposed Sallachy wind farm on the North West side of Loch Shin. This large development would be highly visible from much of the wild land of the far north.
A proposal of a major wind farm on the south east shoulder of Ben Wyvis is at the scoping stage and NEMT is likely to object if a consent is sought.
Another plan for a development on Pressendye, the popular little hill between Don and Deeside, has been rejected by Aberdeenshire Council as information in the application was inaccurate. We may not, however, have seen the last of proposals for this site.
---And finally hydro
Scottish and Southern Electricity is proposing to build a pump storage scheme adjacent to Loch Lochy. This will include the construction of a dam and reservoir in the coire between the two eastern ridges of the Munro Sron aChoire Ghairbh. Whilst this will change the character of the hill, it will be less intrusive than some other developments and will provide consistent renewable energy. On this basis, NEMT has decided not to object.
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