At the beginning of the year, the Minister, Derek McKay, decided that he had not seen enough evidence to convince him of the need to remove General Permitted Development Rights from hill tracks which are built, allegedly, for agriculture or forestry purposes. As hill goers know, many of these tracks are badly constructed eyesores which scar the landscape and appear to have no connection with agriculture or forestry whatever! Most are constructed for sporting purposes, particularly grouse shooting, and are almost certainly illegal. There are no instances of these being required to be removed even after they have been subject to legal challenge. In fact the only places where hill tracks are ever removed are on estates owned by various voluntary organisations. Removing GPD Rights would not prevent landowners from building tracks where needed but would simply bring them under planning control. It would also remove the grey area which currently exists in law.
The Minister did say that he was open to reconsidering the matter if more evidence was available and nine voluntary organisations, including NEMT, have responded to this under the auspices of LINK. A consultant has been employed to co-ordinate a campaign to gather photographic and other evidence (http://www.scotlink.org/hilltracks). NEMT has also made a small financial contribution to this initiative. Evidence gathering ended at the beginning of September and a portfolio will be presented to the Minister. He has also agreed to view various tracks with Cameron McNeish and this is being arranged for the autumn.
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