Trust backs LINK hilltracks campaign 'call for help'

Now the winter snows have receded those active in the outdoors are being asked to help look out for new hilltracks

Pentlands oct 13 030 detail

With the winter snows now largely gone, campaigners predict an increase in hilltrack construction activity. The Scottish Environment LINK hilltracks campaign group, supported by the John Muir Trust and the Mountaineering Council of Scotland, are therefore asking walkers across Scotland for their help.

Poorly constructed hilltracks which cause landscape and environmental damage have been a concern to environmental groups for decades, especially as no planning permission is required if they are for agricultural or forestry purposes. Following a campaign by the Scottish Environment LINK hilltracks group, since December 2014 all landowners must give prior notification to local authorities of their intention to construct new hill tracks or carry out improvement of existing tracks in the hope this will increase understanding of the issue and improve construction standards.

The LINK Hilltracks group has been monitoring local authority planning websites looking for new proposals and expressing concerns or giving comments on specific tracks. It has also participated as a stakeholder in a government review of the prior notification process and is awaiting the report of that review.

It's important that we can assess whether this prior notification process has been effective in improving the standard of tracks and their impact on the environment and landscape. We also need to know if there are still new tracks appearing which have not gone through any notification process at all.

Mel Nicoll, Campaigns co-ordinatorfor the John Muir Trust, said:- "Monitoring hilltracks is in the public interest. It’s important that we know if the right balance between appropriate access and unnecessary landscape degradation is being struck.”

Find out more - and how you can help - on our hilltracks campaign page

Glen Dye