Why development planning matters for Scotland's wild land
This year, thanks to your support of our Keep it Wild campaign, we've made sure wild land has been kept on the political agenda as the Scottish Parliament considers the Planning (Scotland) Bill, important legislation that will set out the strategic policy on land use for development. We've been calling for improved protection for wild land - our survey shows that 80% of people across all age groups and geographical regions want to keep Scotland's unique network of Wild Land Areas free of major development. The Bill also offers the chance to change the system and give fair weight to local communities’ concerns about planning decisions by giving communities a right of appeal. Stage 2 of the Bill is now complete. Find out what has happened in the campaign so far - see timeline here
Wild land on the political agenda
In a very positive step, in autumn 2018 an MSP (Alex Cole-Hamilton) proposed an amendment that would give Wild Land Areas similar status to National Scenic Areas and National Parks. This led to MSPs on the Parliament's Local Government & Communities Committee debating the issue, with some support for increased protection. When it came to the vote the amendment was not passed and the issue is unlikely to be revisited at the next stage of the Bill. Read our response to the vote here. Thank you to the many Trust members and supporters who added their voice by contacting their MSPs.
Rights of appeal
Several other important issues of interest to the Trust and its members also featured during Stage 2 of the Bill. Amendments to create a level playing field in planning so that communities have similar rights to developers to challenge planning decisions were also discussed by MSPs but, again, disappointingly, voted down. But it's not all over as the strong Committee interest in this issue means it may get further consideration at Stage 3 of the Bill.
An amendment which would have tightened control over the construction of damaging vehicle tracks in the Scottish uplands was also discussed by the LGCC. It did not secure the Committee’s support but efforts are continuing while the Bill is still before Parliament, led by the Scottish Environment LINK Hilltracks Campaign. Find out more
Where next for wild land?
The Planning Bill now moves to Stage 3, when the full Parliament will consider further amendments put forward in a debate in the full Chamber. Although there was some support at Stage 2 for improved wild land protection it is unlikely to feature at Stage 3. However, comments made by MSPs on the Committee have opened the door to identifying what measures each political party would support to protect and enhance wild land. We look forward to the opportunities for a fuller debate about wild land protection when the reform of the Scottish planning system moves to its next phase - the updating of the more detailed Scottish Planning Policy and National Planning Framework.
What you can do
We don't know exactly when Stage 3 of the Planning Bill will take place so please keep a look out for updates here and in our e-newsletters - we’ll let you know of any further actions you can take. Meantime, letters to the press are a great way of raising awareness about the importance of protecting wild land so please look out for opportunities to write. Help us to press home the positive benefits of protecting and enhancing wild land and the value of this for rural communities socially and economically, as well as environmentally.
Sign up for our monthly e-newsletter so we can keep you updated about the campaign and any further calls to action.
Make a donation to protect wild land
It takes time and resources to protect wild land from inappropriate developments. Your gift to our Campaign Fund will help to:-
- Fund expert help to challenge inappropriate developments at Public Local Inquiries
- Inform and meet key politicians and decision makers to secure support for wild land protection
- Raise awareness and inspire more people to act now to protect wild land
You can donate by using the form at the bottom of this page.