Save Scotland’s wild land from industrial destruction

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​Court case highlights the precarious state of protection for our wilderness areas

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13th June 2017 by Graham Martin 0 Comments

One of the country’s leading conservation charities has launched a campaign to ensure greater protection for Scotland’s wild land.

The John Muir Trust (JMT) wants the Scottish Government to give specially designated wilderness areas protection from industrial developments.

It is speaking out as a significant case involving a wind farm at the Court of Session potentially threatens the future of Scotland’s unique landscapes.

The court is due to decide a judicial review of a decision to approve Creag Riabhach windfarm in Altnaharra that would allow the development of 22-turbines up to 125m tall, including five within a designated Wild Land Area. 

In June 2014, the Scottish Government said it intended to strengthen protections for Wild Land Areas, which were designated in a map produced by Scottish Natural Heritage.

However, the recent Holyrood approval for the Creag Riabhach development has cast doubt on this.

The JMT is using the case to highlight the precarious situation faced by wilderness areas as it launched its Keep It Wild campaign.

It wants the Scottish Government to use the forthcoming planning bill to give Wild Land Areas protection from industrial development, similar to the protection already in place for in national parks.

The trust has also released a new YouGov poll which reveals 80% of Scots back the proposition that Scotland’s Wild Land Areas should receive continued protection.

Helen McDade, head of policy for the JMT, said: “Scotland is united in wishing to keep our wild landscapes free from large-scale wind farms, giant pylons, super quarries and other inappropriate commercial developments.  

“The forthcoming planning bill provides a unique opportunity to provide the protection that’s currently missing, which means that cases like Creag Riabhach wind farm currently have to be challenged in the courts.

“That’s why we’re launching the Keep it Wild campaign, to persuade the Scottish Government that protection for Wild Land Areas must be enshrined in legislation before they are lost for good.

“Wild land is a key part of Scotland’s natural heritage and national identity. It is also a major driver of the Scottish economy, attracting tourists from all over the world to visit, spend money and support jobs in some our most fragile local communities.

“And with support for wild protection outweighing opposition by 16 to one, it’s hard to think of any other public issue which commands such a universal consensus across age groups, geographical regions and social classes.” 

 The campaign urges people to show their support by writing to their MSP and / or Scotland’s planning minister, and getting involved on social media using the hashtag #keepitwild