A 3,500 signature petition was handed in to the Scottish Parliament this week by the Dunbar based John Muir Trust, as concern about the lack of protection for Scotland’s wild lands grows.
According to the trust the country’s areas of wild land are under greater threat than ever before and their particular concern is the impact of “badly sited, industrial scale wind farm development proposals”, warning that some of the best landscapes are at risk.
Their concern is shared by many, and a number of action groups opposing the constant creep of wind farms, particularly in areas such as the Lammermuir hills above Duns, have been set up in recent months.
“There is a flurry of new windfarm action groups that have recently emerged in response to various threats,” said Mark Rowley, of Cranshaws, Ellemford and Longformacus and a key figure in the campaign to limit wind farm expansion in the Lammermuirs.
“Two recent ones have emerged just outside Berwickshire; SABEL (Sustain a Beautiful East Lothian) seems to be a response to the huge number of turbine applications that are emerging just over the hill in East Lothian;; and the LPG (Lauderdale Protection Group) seems to be a response to the huge number of applications that are now emerging in Lauderdale.
“Development to the west of the Lammermuirs in Lauderdale might well eclipse that here in the east of the Lammermuirs!
“In the last year alone you can add Save the Lammermuirs, the Brunta Hill Action Group, No to Fallago, LPG & SABEL to the others including Protect Your Cheviots, Association to Protect the Environment at Leadburn, Stop Minch Moor Windfarm, Save Our Scenery at Earlshaugh….there are others too.”
Presenting the petition to the Scottish Parliament, Stuart Brooks, chief executive of the John Muir Trust, said: “Our vision is that wild land is protected and wild places are valued by all sectors of society. This petition is the first step in making the case for a new designation to protect Scotland’s wild land areas. At the moment there is inadequate protection for landscapes in our most important wild land areas.”
“Wild land has a wide variety of benefits. It is home to some of our most iconic wildlife and provides us with things vital to our everyday lives like fresh water and clean air.
“92% of visitors to Scotland cite the fantastic scenery we have as the main reason for coming here.”
The petition calls for a new national environmental designation to be established.
Mr Rowley described it as “a great petition that really does deserve full consideration by the Parliament”.
He added: “It is Scottish Natural Heritage’s statistic that the proportion of land unaffected by the visual impact of development fell by 10% to just 31% in just six years between 2002 and 2008 that should be a real wake up call to Government.
“In the Borders, where the areas of wildness, such as the Lammermuirs Area of Great landscape Value are already relatively small the impact will be even greater.
“The John Muir Trust’s call for greater protection should be welcomed, not least as the current Government seem to attach so little value to current landscape designations, such as Areas of Great landscape Value, and largely disregard them when it comes to consenting windarm developments.”
The Scottish government said a review of the situation was under way and that all organisations with an interest in conservation would be consulted.