ScotWays is one eight organisations concerned with conservation, wild lands and access to the countryside which jointly issued an open letter in early July calling for greater protection for Scotland’s landscapes. The Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland, John Muir Trust, Mountaineering Council of Scotland, the Munro Society, National Trust for Scotland, Ramblers Scotland, the Scottish Rights of Way & Access Society (ScotWays) and the Scottish Wild Land Group – between them representing over 350,000 members – welcomed moves by the Scottish Government and Scottish Natural Heritage to safeguard Scotland’s landscapes, but said that the existing proposals do not go far enough:
“We support the increased protection proposed for National Parks and National Scenic Areas, although this merely formalises the present de facto position. Such protection should apply also where development is proposed beyond their boundaries that would impact on the very qualities they were established to safeguard.”
In the letter, the organisations question whether or not the wording of the draft Scottish Planning Policy and National Planning Framework is tight enough:
“The current draft states that (in National Nature Reserves and other important areas) wind power developments will be acceptable ‘where it can be demonstrated that any significant effects on the qualities for which the area is identified can be substantially improved by siting, design or mitigation’. This will allow inappropriate developments to be approved because of lack of clarity in using subjective words such as ‘significant’ and ‘substantially’ when set against the primacy afforded in government policy to economic and energy development.”
The organisations also raise concern that local democratic processes may be undermined by national-level decision-making:
“If local authorities and their electorates think particular local landscapes are important then this should not be over-ridden nationally.”
The full letter will shortly be available from the Downloads page of this website, see tab above.