A hill track. MSPs are disappointed the Scottish Government has put off action

Holyrood politicians have expressed their disappointment at the news a campaign to curtail the proliferation of tracks on Scotland’s hills and mountains will not now be discussed before the May elections.

Scottish Labour MSPs Peter Peacock and Sarah Boyack had been pushing for an update on the Scottish Government’s position on unregulated tracks being built as part of the Hill Tracks campaign.

The matter was debated at Holyrood after a 2,500-name petition calling for action. But the MSPs said it was a ‘matter of considerable regret’ there would be no Government action before the election. This is despite an undertaking by the Stewart Stevenson, the minister responsible at the time, to update the Scottish Parliament on the Scottish Government’s plans in relation to Hill Tracks ‘immediately after the summer recess’.

The campaign, which has the support of the Mountaineering Council of Scotland, aims to cut the number of tracks being bulldozed across wilderness areas.

The MCofS access and conservation officer Hebe Carus said in December 2009: “I regularly receive photographs of outstandingly badly constructed tracks through previously wild areas, even in supposedly protected areas.

“The sad thing is that these are irreversible and completely uncontrolled through the planning system. The longer the review is delayed the more of wild Scotland will be lost forever.”

The two MSPs said the Scottish Government now intends to publish a consultation paper in ‘early 2011’ to decide whether the ideas contained in a 2007 Heriot-Watt University report are still appropriate to pursue.

Writing to those who signed the petition, Ms Boyack and Mr Peacock said: “I know you will share our disappointment that with the Scottish Election due in May this delay will push the issue beyond the term of the current parliament.

We have subsequently written once again to the Minister responsible seeking reassurance that there will be no further delay to this process.”

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