Hill tracks campaign: Can you help?
Poorly-constructed hill tracks cause landscape and environmental damage, and have been a concern to environmental groups for decades, especially as no planning permission is required if they are for agricultural or forestry purposes.
Following a campaign by Ramblers Scotland and seven partners within the LINK Hilltracks group, since December 2014 all landowners must give prior notification to local authorities of their intention to construct new hill tracks or carry out improvements of existing tracks.
They still don’t need to apply for full planning permission so tracks can’t be refused permission, but it’s hoped that the need for prior notification will improve construction standards.
The LINK Hilltracks group has been monitoring local authority planning websites looking for new proposals and expressing concerns or giving comments on specific tracks. In addition we have participated as stakeholders in a government review of the prior notification process.
What do we need?
We are appealing to all walkers to send a photo of any new tracks you come across. It helps if you can include something in the photo to give scale – a person or walking poles. If we see examples of landscape and environmental damage from poor construction we may make renewed efforts to require full planning permission.
Note that tracks for windfarm or hydro schemes already have planning permission, but we are also concerned that the standards of construction can be inadequate. If you come across such tracks, we’re interested!
Where to send your information
Please email photos with their location to email@example.com or tweet a photo using the hashtag #hilltracks and we will look out for it.
LINK Hilltracks campaign group members are: Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland, Cairngorms Campaign, National Trust for Scotland, North East Mountain Trust, Ramblers Scotland, RSPB Scotland, Scottish Campaign for National Parks, Scottish Wild Land Group. We have also been supported by the John Muir Trust and Mountaineering Council of Scotland.
New vehicle hill tracks are proliferating and can currently be built without planning permission if they're claimed to be for agricultural or forestry purposes.
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