The campaigners are asking outdoor fans to turn their cameras on hilltracks

The campaigners are asking outdoor fans to turn their cameras on hilltracks

Outdoors campaigners are recruiting the public to turn detective and reveal examples of ugly tracks on the Scottish mountains.

Nine environmental organisations want walkers to take photos of poorly designed or constructed tracks while they are out enjoying the hills this summer.

The umbrella group Scottish Environment Link said the pictures will be used to build up a portfolio of evidence to persuade the Scottish Government to bring construction of the tracks, which it says have done much to permanently scar the Scottish landscape, within the planning system for the first time.

Helen Todd of Ramblers Scotland and co-convener of the campaign group said: “We are calling on the public to help us persuade the Government to protect our landscapes and wildlife from the uncontrolled spread of these damaging hilltracks.

“Sending us photos of hilltracks will help us build up a portfolio to present to the planning minister demonstrating how important and widespread this problem is.”

Beryl Leatherland of the Scottish Wild Land Group, another co-convener, said: “Hilltracks can serve legitimate purposes, and if landowners and managers had to apply for planning permission and carry out a proper environmental assessment, they would finally come under a level of local authority and public scrutiny.

“This would help ensure that their visual impact was limited, and that, if approved, they would be constructed to a standard that would minimise environmental damage such as erosion, peat deterioration and drainage problems.

“Our organisations have campaigned on this issue for many years, but the Scottish Government recently dropped its proposal to bring hilltracks with purported ‘agricultural or forestry purposes’ into the planning system.

“Such tracks continue to enjoy permitted development rights that exempt them from planning laws and put the landscape at risk through lack of regulation.

“Even large tracts of our national parks are without protection from crudely bulldozed tracks. We believe that the Scottish Government must act to improve protection of the landscape.”

Scottish Environment Link includes the Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland, the Cairngorms Campaign, the John Muir Trust, the National Trust for Scotland, the North East Mountain Trust, Ramblers Scotland, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, the Scottish Campaign for National Parks and the Scottish Wild Land Group.

The Mountaineering Council of Scotland also supports the campaign.

Pictures can be sent via the campaign group’s website.

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