Ramblers Scotland has welcomed the Scottish Government’s announcement on the greater protection of wild land through the ban on any wind farms in National Parks or National Scenic Areas and the adoption of Scottish Natural Heritage’s map of core wild land areas.
These measures were outlined in the National Planning Framework 3 and reviewed Scottish Planning Policy publications. This now means that approximately 30% of Scotland will be better protected from large scale, inappropriate developments, although we also expressed concerns about the increased pressure for development on the large tracts of land outwith these areas.
“We're very pleased that the Scottish Government has finally recognised in planning policy the importance of wild land for Scotland” said Helen Todd, Campaigns & Policy Manager. “Wild land is a key tourism asset and a magnificent setting for outdoor recreation, but it's also part of our natural heritage, even our fundamental sense of identity as a nation.
We're pleased to see the confirmation that no wind farms will be built within National Parks or National Scenic Areas, and we hope that the adoption of Scottish Natural Heritage’s map of core areas of wild land within the Scottish Planning Policy will lead to a curtailment in the relentless march of giant onshore wind farms with the resulting attrition of our cherished wild areas.”
Nevertheless, while 30% of Scotland will be better protected, there are still large tracts of land which are exposed to these massive developments, and this will only be corrected by changes in the financial support regimes for wind farms to encourage them to be built offshore, not in fragile upland areas where they're totally out of scale with the landscape.
Helen also warned that the recent approval of the Stronelairg 67-turbine windfarm in the Monadhliath mountains, right in the heart of one of these core areas of wild land, suggests that the new wild land policy may not necessarily bring the proper protections we're looking for. “We'll be watching carefully to see whether the government is really serious about protecting wild land, or whether this policy can be ripped up whenever a big developer comes along with big promises and a massive new wind farm scheme.”