Campaigners call for MSPs to ‘Keep it Wild’

Holyrood gathering (Wednesday 21 February) calls for stronger protection for Scotland’s 42 Wild Land Areas in Planning Bill

Kiw campaign parliament cropped detail

Representatives of the John Muir Trust were joined by members and supporters outside Holyrood yesterday at a gathering to show MSPs support for the idea that Scotland’s officially recognised Wild Land Areas should be a no-go zone for large-scale commercial wind farms.

Within the current National Planning Framework, the Scottish Government states: “We also want to continue our strong protection for our wildest landscapes - wild land is a nationally important asset.” 

However, in contrast to National Scenic Areas and National Parks, where windfarms are expressly forbidden, there is no clear-cut protection for Wild Land Areas. And while a number of applications for commercial wind farms have been rejected because of their impact on wild land, one major development at Creag Riabhach near Altnaharra was approved in 2016 and other applications are awaiting a decision.

With a new draft Scottish Planning Bill due to be scrutinised by the Holyrood’s Local  Government and Communities Committee on 28 February, the John Muir Trust – along with Ramblers Scotland, Mountaineering Scotland and other organisations – is calling for Wild Land Areas to be given the same level of protection as National Scenic Areas and National Parks.

Helen McDade, Head of Policy for the John Muir Trust, said: “We held this event at Holyrood to call for clarity in the status of Wild Land Areas.

“A YouGov opinion poll last summer found that 52 per cent “strongly agree” that Wild Land Areas “should be protected from large scale infrastructure, such as industrial wind farms, and super-quarries” – with a further 28 per cent tending to agree.

“Yet there is ambiguity in the planning process, leading to a continuing stream of applications, which have to be considered by planners, councillors, ministers, local communities, government agencies and environmental charities. This consumes huge amounts of time and money for everyone involved.

“We see the Scottish Planning Bill as an opportunity to clear up the confusion by bringing Wild Land Areas into line with National Scenic Areas and National Parks. We believe this is a clean and clear-cut solution to an ongoing problem and would benefit everyone – including prospective developers, some of whom have spent huge amounts of money on speculative applications that have been ultimately rejected.”

"Thank you to everyone who attended yesterday and to the MSPs who came out to talk to us."

KIW Parliament

  • The ‘Keep It Wild’ gathering took place at Holyrood on Wednesday 21 February, 12.30 -1.30pm
  • Find out more about the Keep it Wild campaign.
  • A huge thank you to everyone who joined us outside the Parliament yesterday!