Hilltracks and their impact on wild land

Published: 11th June 2015

Find out about the impacts of hilltracks on wild land, including details of a long-running campaign for proper regulation.


Hill tracks, if sited, designed or constructed badly, can cause significant environmental damage as well as scar the landscape visually. A long-running campaign in Scotland, co-ordinated by Scottish Environment LINK and supported by the John Muir Trust, has been trying to bring to an end the current unregulated system for vehicular track construction.

The Hilltracks Campaign Track Changes report in October 2013 provided graphic evidence of the widespread damage caused by tracks built under Permitted Development Rights, which provide exemptions from the normal planning process. It was produced to persuade the Scottish Government to remove these rights and so enable proper public scrutiny of any future tracks.

Thanks to pressure from this campaign, the Scottish Government has introduced a requirement for the “prior-notification” to planning authorities of an intention to develop private ways, including hill tracks. For the first time these often environmentally damaging and frequently contentious developments are subject to some, albeit limited, control over the whole of Scotland.

Find out more about the Hilltracks Campaign and how you can support it by keeping a look out for new hill tracks and sending in photos. The campaign group will check to see if they have prior notification. You can also volunteer to look through weekly planning lists for a particular area to check for prior notifications.

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