Outdoor bodies are calling on electors to put the country’s wild lands on the political agenda in the run up to polls for members of the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly and Northern Ireland Assembly.
Elections take place for all three of the nations’ legislatures on 5 May and the John Muir Trust and the Mountaineering Council of Scotland both called on candidates to make a stand for wilderness areas in the face of increased demand to build windfarms and other structures in Britain’s remote areas.
The trust said electors should quiz candidates on their support for the protection of wild land, while the MCofS called a proposal for a 31-turbine windfarm just outside the Cairngorms national park a step too far.
The JMT’s chief executive Stuart Brooks said: “There is currently inadequate protection for landscapes in the UK’s most important wild land areas, and they are being lost and degraded at an alarming rate.
“It is vital that we take action now to protect our best areas of wild land from inappropriate development.
“That is why we are asking anyone who cares about the UK’s wild land to tell their candidates about the value of wild land and to ask them to pledge to help give it the protection it so urgently needs.”
A statement from the MCofS said: “The proposed Allt Duine windfarm, on the edge of the Cairngorms national park, is a prime example of a renewable energy project that will cause irrevocable damage to a cherished wild landscape and ruin views in the Monadhliath mountains. The character of this special area is in the hands of the next Scottish Government.
The council’s president Chris Townsend said: “Scotland’s mountains are a precious wild land resource that once lost is gone forever.
“Like the John Muir Trust and other organisations, the MCofS believes that wind farms in the wrong location destroy wild landscapes. Allt Duine is one such wind farm and should not be built.”
MCofS access and conservation officer Hebe Carus added: “The MCofS does not object to all windfarms, but we believe that recent planning consents show that windfarms are being permitted where they are accelerating the loss of Scotland’s wildness.
“Scottish Government policy is driving windfarm planning approvals in highly sensitive and vulnerable areas. If people care about our upland landscapes, then the only way to change the policy is for the electorate to make it an election issue.”
Information on how to support the John Muir Trust campaign and quiz candidates is on the trust’s website.
More details of the MCofS campaign can be obtained from Hebe Carus on 07786 878 641 or by emailing her.