Cape Wrath. Photo: Anne Burgess CC-BY-SA-2.0

Cape Wrath. Photo: Anne Burgess CC-BY-SA-2.0

Britain’s biggest walkers’ charity is calling on the Ministry of Defence to abandon plans to extend its firing range at the country’s most north-westerly point.

The MoD is planning to buy more land at Cape Wrath in Sutherland, but the Ramblers said military bosses should stop their land grab.

The campaigning group also said the MoD should review all its holdings in the remote area, the terminus of several long-distance walking routes.

Dick Balharry, president of Ramblers Scotland, said: “No other European nation would ever consider that such a fantastic part of their coastline should be used as a Nato firing range.

“The MoD would never consider, for one second, that Land’s End or the White Cliffs of Dover should be subject to such abuse.

“Cape Wrath is an outstanding part of our nation’s heritage, an end-point for famous walking trails and a vital ingredient in supporting the local economy. It is time for the MoD to be sent home, to think again.”

Mr Balharry will speak on the matter at today’s annual meeting of Ramblers Scotland in Glasgow.

The MoD plans are also the subject of a motion at the Ramblers’ general council which will take place at the University of Warwick in Coventry next month.

Dick Balharry is also calling on the Scottish Government to take action. He said: “I am very pleased that the local Durness community are doing their best to purchase this land.

“The Scottish Government must help this process along, but if it proves too difficult to secure the land through this route then the Scottish Government should ensure that a public body takes over ownership, if necessary by compulsory means”.

He also called on the Holyrood administration to undertake a review of all MoD land which is currently held in the Cape Wrath area.

“I think it’s time to ask if we really need a live firing range in the Cape Wrath area,” Mr Balharry said. “The Scottish Government needs to determine if it is in the public interest as a whole that this use continues, and to conduct whatever negotiations with the Secretary of State for Defence are necessary as a result of such a review.”

Cape Wrath is separated from the mainland by the Kyle of Durness. The road to the lighthouse at the cape is only accessible via the passenger ferry that crosses the Kyle of Durness.

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