Peter Peacock urges Transport Minister on the problem of unregulated and unmonitored Hill Tracks

18 January 2011

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Peter Peacock is urging the new Transport Minister Keith Brown to deal with a major issue affecting Scotland’s mountains as soon as possible.

Mr Peacock has repeatedly been in contact with Mr Brown’s predecessor over the last year in relation to the problem of unregulated and unmonitored Hill Tracks that have been appearing across the Scottish uplands increasingly over recent years.

These tracks currently enjoy permitted development rights under the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (Scotland) Order 1992 (the GPDO) and as a result there has been a proliferation of such tracks which Mr Peacock says have caused "great visual damage" to uplands.

The issue was the subject of a Members’ debate held on June 9 as well as an online petition that to date has attracted over 2,500 signatories.

In a letter to Mr Brown Mr Peacock states: "At the debate the Minister promised to update the Parliament "immediately after the summer recess" about the Scottish Government’s plans with regard to the review of the non-domestic elements of the GPDO, and specifically hill tracks.

"Sadly no such update was forthcoming and following a subsequent letter the Minister responded that it was now the intention of the government to publish a consultation paper in "early" 2011.

"Unfortunately this is not the first time that the timescale for action has slipped with this issue and it was extremely disappointing to see yet another delay."

Mr Peacock said he was unsure of the need for this further consultation, particularly in light of the 2007 Heriot-Watt report which considered these issues and suggested recommendations.

He went on: "Those who have signed the petition and organisations involved have expressed to me their deep disappointment that the Scottish Government has consistently promised action and to date there has been no such action taken.

"I hope you will be able to take a different approach and ensure that swift action is taken on this important matter.

"In particular I hope that if there must be another consultation you will be able to give me a specific date for the publication of the consultation so that there is no further slippage of dates.

"I hope you will be able to reassure me of the importance of this issue to the Government and that you will be willing to take a "hands on" approach to this issue as has been your stated intention for your new post."

 

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