A landowner in the Cairngorms National Park has been ordered to remove a controversial vehicle track that is visible from miles around in scenic Glen Clova, Angus.
Campaigners have welcomed Cairngorms National Park Authority’s enforcement notice against the ugly vehicle track, which appears to be used to support field sports.
The landowner – registered to Pitlivie Farm in Carnoustie – has been given until October 2020 to restore the upper part of the track, which is 1.5km long and has created spoil mounds up to 10 metres wide. They have also been told to seek retrospective permission by 23 December 2019 for changes to a separate section of track lower down the hillside.
Such tracks made national headlines this year when the Scottish Parliament voted against Planning Bill amendments from Scottish Green Party MSP Andy Wightman which would have closed loopholes and introduced stricter controls over their construction.
Helen Todd is Ramblers Scotland’s policy manager and co-convener of the LINK Hilltracks group, which continues to campaign for stronger public oversight of upland vehicle tracks.
Ms Todd: “We commend the Cairngorms National Park Authority for taking decisive action against this ugly and unauthorised track, which is a scar upon the landscape in this historic, protected glen.
“It is one of very few examples of an authority being able to spend the time and money required to retrospectively tackle inappropriate tracks, which for too long have been creeping further and further into wild landscapes.
“I hope that other landowners across Scotland will take notice of the Glen Clova order, which will force the person who built this track to pay for an expensive restoration job.”
Beryl Leatherland, of Scottish Wild Land Group and co-convener of the LINK Hilltracks group said: “The case highlights the urgent need for the Scottish Government to introduce stronger controls over vehicle tracks in our hills – to boost local democracy, improve construction standards and protect precious environments from further damage.”
The Scottish Government last week announced that hill tracks will be one of the top priorities in its forthcoming review of ‘Permitted Development Rights’, which governs which types of developments can bypass the full planning permission process.
Currently, landowners simply need to tell authorities before building tracks which are said to support ‘agriculture or forestry’ – and full planning permission is generally not required.
Campaigners believe these tracks are often created to support shooting activities.
Research published last year by the Scottish Environment LINK Hilltracks group found that vehicle tracks continue to expand further into Scotland’s mountain landscapes, and that weak planning processes can lead to them being badly-sited and designed.
Some tracks have even been built over the top of narrow, low-impact trails and historical routes, with little chance for the public to comment in advance.