Analysis of public consultation shows great support for wild land map

Independent analysis of public consultation on wild land map shows strong public support for protection of Scotland's wild land.

As Scottish Natural Heritage publishes an independent analysis of the public consultation on its wild land map, the John Muir Trust hailed the findings as further evidence of strong public support for the protection of Scotland’s wild land.

A total of 410 submissions were received, with 300 supporting the wild land map. As a comparison, there were 472 responses in total on alcohol minimum pricing; 139 responses on reducing the drink driving limit; and 56 responses on the abolition of corroboration.

An analysis of the responses carried out by two independent organisations, Craigforth Consultants and Planning Aid Scotland, has now been published. Its key findings are:-

• 73% “generally support” the wild land map
• 21% “oppose or raise substantial concerns” about the map
• 7% are “unclear or have no view”.

A further breakdown of the data reveals that:-

• 86% of individuals responding support the map, while 12% oppose it
• 72% of third sector organisations support the map, while 17% oppose it
• 53% of local authorities support the map, while 20% oppose it.

Although energy companies opposed the map, non-energy businesses, especially in tourism, were in favour.

Stuart Brooks, chief executive of the John Muir Trust said: “The scale of public support for the wild land map shows that people care passionately about wild land and want to see it better protected.

“The energy companies who demanded this consultation now have to accept their views are in the minority. In fact, there were more submissions calling for the wild land map to be extended rather than reduced.

“The sensible, middle way forward now is for the Scottish Government to accept the wild land map as it is, and incorporate it into the new National Planning Framework and planning policies now under discussion.

“The adoption of this map and a commitment to protect our wild places for future generations would be an achievement of which the Scottish Government could be proud.”

Background notes

The Core Areas of Wild Land map was published last spring as part of the Scottish Government’s wider review of the planning system. It delineates 43 areas of ‘core wild land’ in Scotland where wind farm developments might be excluded.

After the map was published a number of energy companies demanded that it be put out to public consultation. For three months up to December 20 2013, members of the public and other interested parties were invited to submit their views.

Notes on methodology
The independent report by Craigforth and Planning Aid broadly confirms the analysis conducted earlier by the John Muir Trust.

However, the consultants’ category “oppose or raise substantial concerns” can be open to subjective interpretation. For example, some organisations and individuals raising substantial concerns see the map as too restrictive; Forestry Commission Scotland, for example, raised concerns that the map excluded all large forestry plantations. As a result, some organisations and individuals who wanted the map significantly expanded have been lumped into the same category as those who want the map reduced or scrapped.

The John Muir Trust, using a slightly different classification system, found the gap wider (80% broadly in favour and 14% broadly opposed). Whatever system is used, support for the wild land map massively outweighs opposition.