Alladales plans for wolves are back on the agenda. Photo: Frank Wouters CC-BY-2.0

Alladale's plans for wolves are back on the agenda. Photo: Frank Wouters [CC-2.0]

Scotland’s mountaineering body says it will object to the latest plans for the introduction of wild animals into a Highland estate.

The Mountaineering Council of Scotland will make a submission after learning that the Alladale Estate, near Ardgay in Easter Ross, intends to apply for an amended zoo licence to keep wildcats and wolves alongside its existing elk and wild boar.

Last month, owner Paul Lister, whose father built up the now defunct MFI furniture empire, admitted that the 9,300ha (23,000-acre) was too small to support wolves in the wild. His plan to enclose such a large area of the Highlands sparked controversy among walkers and climbers who maintain the idea conflicts with the right of access under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act.

The latest notice was received by Highland Council on 23 June; the law states that at least two months’ notice must be given of the intention to apply for a zoo licence.

The latest submission by the Alladale Estate is for the wolves and wild boar to be contained within the same compound, but separated by fencing. It will be a relatively small area which, according to the estate, will have a roofed viewing area for visitors.

The estate application says a maximum of 35 people a day – guests at the wilderness estate – will be allowed to view the wild animals, though school parties of up to 70 are planned.

The Mountaineering Council of Scotland is urging its supporters to object to the plans and says it is preparing its own submission. A spokesperson for the council said: “The relevant act specifies the consultees, including ‘any other person with proper objections’. The MCofS intends making a submission, but if you feel strongly about this, as with other developments, a force of numbers responding will make a huge difference.”

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