Trust welcomes wild land breakthrough

Welcome for new Wild Land Areas 2014 map of Scotland published by Scottish Natural Heritage and supported by the Scottish Government.

The John Muir Trust today hailed the new Wild Land Areas 2014 map of Scotland published by Scottish Natural Heritage and supported by the Scottish Government as a historic breakthrough in its campaign to have Scotland’s wild land recognised and protected. The map covers 19 per cent of Scotland’s land area.

This recognition of the importance of wild land is underpinned by both the new National Planning Framework and Scottish Planning Policy documents. The National Planning Framework 3 states ‘We also want to continue our strong protection for our wildest landscapes - wild land is a nationally important asset.’ (par 4.4)

The Scottish Planning Policy document states: ‘Wild land character is displayed in some of Scotland's remoter upland, mountain and coastal areas, which are very sensitive to any form of intrusive human activity and have little or no capacity to accept new development. Plans should identify and safeguard the character of areas of wild land as identified on the 2014 SNH map of wild land areas.’ (par200)

Stuart Brooks, Chief Executive of the John Muir Trust said: “This recognition of Scotland’s wild land as a nationally important asset that needs to be safeguarded marks a historic breakthrough. Scotland’s landscapes are spectacular, contributing to our quality of life, our national identity and the visitor economy. The John Muir Trust has fought long and hard over many years with the support of many thousands of people to achieve official recognition for wild land and we welcome this commitment.’’

“Although this falls short of our request for the absolute protection of wild land from large scale developments, we applaud the Scottish Government for taking this bold step in the face of a sustained campaign to undermine wild land protection by powerful vested interests’’.

The adoption of this policy and map should result in more consistent decision making by planners and government, and it should discourage energy companies from targeting the 42 areas that make up the wild land map.

The Trust notes that there is a net reduction in the area covered by the map as compared with the original draft, with several significant areas removed (and some areas added). The areas removed include a chunk of the Monadhliath Mountains, following the decision by the Scottish Government to approve the giant Stronelairg wind farm.

Stuart Brooks said “Before commenting on the specific changes to the map, we will look more closely at the detailed explanations from SNH about the reasons for these removals. We will continue to defend those areas that we consider to be wild land from large scale development.”

Download the new Wild land areas 2014 map from SNH

Find out more about the NPF3 and SPP planning documents on the Scottish Government website