The Cullachy Estate wants to make the temporary track permanent. Photo: Nic Bullivant CC-BY-SA-2.0

The Cullachy Estate wants to make the temporary track permanent. Photo: Nic Bullivant CC-BY-SA-2.0

Mountaineers are calling on planners to throw out an application to allow a controversial hilltrack to be retained in the Highlands.

The Mountaineering Council of Scotland said the track, constructed during the building of the contentious Beauly to Denny power line, should not be allowed to remain.

The council, which represents hillwalkers, climbers and mountaineers north of the border, said the Culachy Estate has applied to make permanent almost 8km (5 miles) of temporary access track, along with two bridges, running almost parallel to the Wade Military Road through the Corrieyairack Pass in the Monadhliath Mountains.

The mountaineering council said: “The track is part of the access road for construction of the power line, given approval after a long battle between developers Scottish Hydro-Electric Transmission Limited, part of SSE, and conservationists, and only granted permission on the condition that it be removed once construction of the line was complete.

“Now Culachy Estate has sought permission to make a section of the track permanent, claiming it is to enable the expansion of sporting activities on the estate. However, it is known that the estate is also seeking permission for a large windfarm in the area.

David Gibson

§David Gibson

David Gibson, chief executive of the MCofS, said: “It is an utter disgrace that a national planning condition, especially one imposed after such a contentious planning process, can be so eroded by piecemeal applications to local planning authorities.”

The MCofS is calling on Highland Council to turn down the application. Mr Gibson said the impact of the construction tracks on the landscape was a central concern at the public inquiry into the Beauly-Denny line.

“This track is highly visible from Wade’s road and the surrounding hills, a popular area for walkers,” he said. “The area is already affected by the power line and the presence of the track adds to the impact on the landscape.

“It was argued that the power line is in the national interest, but no such argument can be made by the estate for the track, which extends into an area designated as wild land. It is the duty of Highland Council planners to reject the application.”

The Beauly to Denny power line through the Highlands was approved in 2010 despite determined opposition from outdoor groups and conservation campaigners.

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