David Gibson

David Gibson

Scotland’s mountaineering chief is urging the hillwalking and climbing community to back two MSPs fighting against unsightly tracks on the country’s mountains.

David Gibson, chief officer of the Mountaineering Council of Scotland, says the response to an online petition so far has been ‘pathetic’. MSPs Sarah Boyack and Peter Peacock are seeking the support of outdoor enthusiasts to put pressure on the Scottish Government to curtail the right of landowners to drive tracks across unspoilt Scottish wilderness areas.

The MCofS’s access and conservation officer Hebe Carus prompted the move and enlisted the support of the two Scottish Labour MSPs. Ms Boyack is the shadow minister for the environment.

The two parliamentarians have now pleaded with each person who signed the petition to enlist the support of five more ‘outdoor friends’ to add their names to the petition after only 400 signed up in the first week.

David Gibson said it was time for hillwalkers and climbers to make a stand. On his blog, he said: “What a pathetic response from the hill-going community. As usual, hill-goers seem content to sit on the sidelines and wait for others to do something on their behalf.”

As grough reported last week, the current legislation allows the laying of these tracks under permitted development rules, but a promised review of these arrangements still hasn’t materialised.

David Gibson points out that there are an estimated 200,000 Scottish adults heading for the hills each month, so 400 signatures is on the paltry side. Referring to the petition, he said: “If it is to have the maximum impact as many people as possible need sign up over the next few weeks and show that thousands of Scots take this issue seriously.”

Details of the petition and examples of the desecration wreaked by some of the tracks are on the Hilltracks campaign website.

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