A petition urging protection of Scotland’s remaining wild land from “industrial” developments like inappropriate wind farms has reached more than 2,600 signatures within days of being launched.
Examples of such applications, it says, include the Talladh a’ Bheithe windfarm at Rannoch, and the Allt Duine windfarm in the Monadhliath mountains.
The petition was launched in tandem with the Mountaineering Council of Scotland booklet ‘Respecting Scotland’s Mountains’, which was sent out to all MSPs and MPs as well as selected councils and decision makers.
The petition is said to be an important tool in the fight to protect a “valuable but increasingly endangered resource”.
“In just 11 years, up to 2013, the proportion of Scotland from which built development could not be seen dropped by two fifths an immense change. The remaining wild land has been officially mapped by Scottish Natural Heritage for inclusion in national planning policy,” says the petition.
The MCoS is calling for no further industrial developments to be permitted in the areas of wild land that remain.
It says that would have a number of benefits. Wild mountain landscapes form a vital part of Scotland’s culture but, more than that, they also inspire people to become more physically active, helping to combat a serious national problem with inactivity. There is also strong evidence that being able to retreat to the mountains improves mental health.
Tourism is one of Scotland’s largest industries, and is by far the largest source of employment in the more remote communities that lie close to areas of wild land.
And the petition, started by MCoS chief officer David Gibson, says: “The renewable energy industry will benefit by having been given clarity that wild land is not a suitable location for development.
“This will save money, time, controversy and reputational damage through planning battles in these areas. Renewable energy may be a vital part of Scotland’s future, but windfarms can be sited elsewhere, in landscapes where visible development and intrusion is already prevalent.
“When wild land is developed, it is lost forever. We must protect what now remains of these precious landscapes.”