Halted in their tracks

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Walkers and farmers have welcomed the Scottish Government’s rules on creating new hill tracks.

The Mountaineering Council of Scotland (MCofS) is pleased planners will be able to “intervene (on proposed tracks) to ensure that design, siting and appearance are acceptable”.

But the body, which represents climbers and walkers, is disappointed there is not an immediate ban on bulldozing tracks in hills without permission.

MCofS’s David Gibson said: “The present government has approved developments, leading to an unprecedented reduction in wild land across Scotland, so we naturally welcome the introduction of measures by them which we hope will mitigate further damage to Scotland’s landscape caused by bulldozed tracks.

“We look forward to seeing the detail about the planning controls and being able to confirm that there will be real protection for the landscape from hill tracks.

“We would have expected an immediate moratorium on building tracks without permission, because experience has already shown that such delay only creates a window of opportunity during which more damage can be done.”

Historically, agricultural and forestry tracks could be constructed and upgraded under permitted development rights, meaning that provided they met certain criteria a planning application was not required.

The National Farmers Union (NFU) Scotland’s Gemma Thomson said: “NFU Scotland welcomes the decision by the Minister to adopt a Prior Notification process for hill tracks, as opposed to seeking full planning permission.