Peter Peacock MSP
2 November 2010
Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Peter Peacock has written to the Scottish Government asking what progress has been made on his campaign to stop landowners damaging Scottish mountains by bulldozing tracks across them.
He has written to Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson following the Members Debate held on June 9
that he sponsored on the issue of Hill Tracks in the Scottish Uplands.
Mr Peacock writes: "In this debate we discussed the Scottish Government’s plan to review the permitted development rights as suggested in the Heriot Watt review of the General Permitted Development Order 1992 that was published in 2007.
"As you are aware the response of the Scottish Government to this issue that has been dragging on now for some time with an initial plan to review non-domestic permitted development rights in 2009 pushed back into 2010.
"I was pleased therefore with the assurance that you will recall giving to Parliament of your intention to bring forward your next thoughts ‘immediately after the summer recess’. "
The MSP continues:"I have been disappointed, therefore not to have seen or heard those ‘thoughts’ (unless I have missed them). As we approach the winter and with the parliamentary session approaching its conclusion in the spring it is important to see progress on this matter.
" I hope you will be able to reassure me of the Scottish Government’s commitment to reviewing these development rights in a speedy manner and will let me know your current thoughts in your response to this letter and honour the commitment you gave to Parliament and not allow this issue to be delayed any longer."
Nearly 2,600 people have signed an online petition supporting a Motion in the Scottish Parliament to have greater control of unregulated hill tracks.
It was launched by Labour MSPs Sarah Boyack and Peter Peacock, and has cross-party support.
Hill tracks are constructed for the purposes of easing vehicular traffic in upland areas of the Scottish countryside.
Currently, their construction does not require planning permission as long as the tracks are claimed, but not evidenced, to be constructed for land management purposes such as agriculture and forestry.
There is grave concern about the increasing number intruding into wild landscape and damaging the environment.
There are no restrictions of hill track constructions at different altitudes, no clear definition of maintenance such as the widening to change the use from footpaths, no baseline map against which to assess claimed repair as opposed to construction and no penalties if the regulations are not followed.
Mr Peacock first took up the issue after receiving complaints from constituents about the impact of a hill road constructed on the north slopes of Beinn Bhuraich above Loch Mor in the Monadhliath Mountains, but many other examples have been reported through other channels.
While accepting that farmers and crofters have a legitimate need to construct, maintain and develop tracks constructed in lower lying land for their purposes of land management, the MSP saw that a problem had developed through the lack of regulation of hill tracks.
Mr Peacock has discussed the issue with Landowner groups who have readily admitted that not all tracks are well constructed.
The Petition can be read and signed at www.hilltrackscampaign.org.uk.
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