The hilltrack in Glen Clova

The hilltrack in Glen Clova

Campaigners have welcomed a national park’s decision to order the removal of a hilltrack in the Cairngorms.

Ramblers Scotland said the track in Glen Clova, Angus, appears to be used for field sports.

Landowners currently simply need to tell authorities before building tracks which are said to support ‘agriculture or forestry’ – and full planning permission is generally not required.

But the walkers’ charity said it believes these tracks are often created to support shooting activities.

It said the landowner – registered to Pitlivie Farm in Carnoustie – has been given until October 2020 to restore the upper part of the track, which is 1.5km long and has created spoil mounds up to 10m wide. They have also been told to seek retrospective permission by 23 December 2019 for changes to a separate section of track lower down the hillside.

Ramblers Scotland said such tracks made national headlines this year when the Scottish Parliament voted against Planning Bill amendments from Scottish Green Party MSP Andy Wightman which would have closed loopholes and introduced stricter controls over their construction.

Helen Todd, the charity’s policy manager and co-convener of the Link Hilltracks group, which continues to campaign for stronger public oversight of upland vehicle tracks, said: “We commend the Cairngorms National Park Authority for taking decisive action against this ugly and unauthorised track, which is a scar upon the landscape in this historic, protected glen.

“It is one of very few examples of an authority being able to spend the time and money required to retrospectively tackle inappropriate tracks, which for too long have been creeping further and further into wild landscapes.

“I hope that other landowners across Scotland will take notice of the Glen Clova order, which will force the person who built this track to pay for an expensive restoration job.”

Beryl Leatherland, of the Scottish Wild Land Group and co-convener of the Link Hilltracks group said: “The case highlights the urgent need for the Scottish Government to introduce stronger controls over vehicle tracks in our hills – to boost local democracy, improve construction standards and protect precious environments from further damage.”

Research published last year by the Scottish Environment Link Hilltracks group found that vehicle tracks continue to expand further into Scotland’s mountain landscapes, and that weak planning processes can lead to them being badly sited and designed.

It said some tracks have even been built over the top of narrow, low-impact trails and historical routes, with little chance for the public to comment in advance.

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