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Trust issues call to protect wild land from wind farms

Plans to protect up to a third of Scotland’s countryside from wind farms do not go far enough, a leading environment charity warned.

The John Muir Trust said unspoiled wild land should be officially designated and protected by an outright ban on major development.

Stuart Brooks, the Trust’s chief executive, spoke out as MSPs prepared to quiz environment minister Paul Wheelhouse and planning minister Derek Mackay today about proposed new Government guidelines.

Last month, the Government proposed a complete ban on wind farms in National Parks and officially designated National Scenic Areas, which between them cover 19% of Scotland.

Under the draft guidelines planners would also have to refer to a more wide-ranging “wild land” map created by environment quango Scottish Natural Heritage, covering 31% of the country’s landscape. Ministers expect local authorities to recognise and “safeguard” areas covered by the wild land map but have not proposed a total ban on development.

Mr Brooks said: “The recent publication of an official wild land map of Scotland marks a great advance.

“But we believe that the Scottish Government, having taken a strong step in the right direction, should now go further by reinforcing their declared support for wild land protection with a pledge to introduce a national designation.