Trust responds to decision of Petitions Committee to close designation

Trust promises to continue fight to save Scotland's wild land.

Following the decision of the Scottish Parliament Public Petitions Committee to close the petition calling for a statutory designation for wild land, the John Muir Trust promised to continue the fight to save Scotland’s remaining wild land.

“We are grateful to members of the Public Petitions Committee, and those who have given evidence, for listening to our arguments and treating our petition with the respect it deserves,” said Stuart Brooks, John Muir Trust Chief Executive. The debate has led politicians across the spectrum to acknowledge that Scotland’s wild land is of national importance and needs more robust protection.

“Naturally, we are disappointed that the Scottish Government has for now set its face against a national wild land designation. Such a bold, radical move would raise Scotland’s profile worldwide, boost tourism, help support sustainable economic activity in our most remote communities and allow us to create a comprehensive ecological network free from industrial pressures. Whatever today’s decision, this is an idea whose time is coming.

“In the meantime, the current planning system is failing lamentably to afford wild land the protection it needs. In the Highlands, planning officials have in recent weeks recommended ‘no objection’ to a series of large scale developments that could lead to the loss of vast tracts of core wild land and the destruction of peat bogs that lock in great stores of carbon.

“If wild land protection is to be dependent for now on planning policy, it is vital that policy is clear, robust and underpinned by rigorous guidance. It should ensure that the special qualities of wild land, as mapped by SNH, should not be undermined by development.”

John Hutchison, John Muir Trust Chairman, said: “Wild land should be afforded the same status as National Parks and National Scenic Areas, because it is too precious to be fought over within the framework of complicated and often ambiguous planning procedures.

“As Scottish Government Ministers acknowledged today, 58 per cent of our best wild land lies outwith existing national designations. That demonstrates that our current systems are not designed to protect this magnificent national treasure that is famed across the world.”