16 Dec 2021

Protecting Scotland's wild land

Trust's initial thoughts on Scotland's draft Fourth National Planning Framework which has been published for public consultation

Glen Barrisdale by Grahame Nicoll

Public consultation of the draft Fourth National Planning Framework (NPF4), a long-term spatial plan for Scotland, is underway. The consultation opened in November 2021 and runs until 31 March 2022.

The Trust welcomes the inclusion of wild land and specific reference to NatureScot’s Wild Land Areas map in the draft Policies 19 and 32. We’ve been aware of the pressure piling up on Scottish Government from the onshore renewable companies to remove any reference to wild land and the Wild Land Areas.

The wording overall is less robust in this draft, and the special category (level 2 protection) that had included Wild Land Areas and other sensitive sites in Scottish Planning Policy 2 has been removed. However, we welcome that the wording of the policies is sufficiently clear to ensure that developers, planning officials, councils, and the Scottish Government will have to continue to take account of wild land when applications come forward.

Part 2 of the document features proposed national developments. Number 12 in the list is ‘Strategic Renewable Electricity Generation and Transmission Infrastructure’. This type of development includes Section 36 onshore wind applications and applies Scotland-wide. A development with national development status is assumed as being needed and therefore the question of need is no longer a consideration for planning.

The Trust has been reviewing the draft and will be submitting a response before the deadline. We encourage Members with an interest in the future of wild land in Scotland to respond as individuals to the draft.

Photo of Glen Barrisdale in Knoydart by Grahame Nicoll