MSPs are being urged to recognise the value of Scotland’s mountains, and to protect a vital national asset.
Members of the Scottish Parliament will today receive a leaflet from the Mountaineering Council of Scotland (MCofS) reminding them of the huge benefits of Scotland’s mountains – and the threat posed by over-provision of wind farms.
They are being challenged to balance the need for green power with the need to safeguard a hugely valuable but finite and vulnerable resource.
“To some the term ‘wild land’ just translates as emptiness – something without any value,” says MCofS Director of Landscape and Access Dave Gordon.
“Scotland’s mountains are very far from being without value: they are among our greatest assets.
“But our uplands are also incredibly vulnerable.
“Our mountains and wild land are internationally recognised and a major factor in attracting tourism and supporting rural employment, as well as being a home for wildlife and key part of our cultural heritage.
“However, Scotland is a small country and the area of the land unaffected by the visual impact of built development has already shrunk by a third in less than a decade. The unceasing pressure from wind farm developers on our mountains threatens to squander a large part of this precious asset within the next decade.”
The MCofS, which is the representative body for Scottish mountaineers and hill walkers, with nearly 12,000 members, is calling on MSPs and the Scottish Government to act for the future by following a five-point plan.
• To ensure proper recognition of the value of wild land and open mountain landscapes as an essential national asset
• To afford full protection from wind farms and other damaging development for National Parks, National Scenic Areas, other areas designated for their landscape or wildlife importance, and Core Areas of Wild Land
• To maintain a very strong presumption against development adjacent to protected landscapes that impacts on the qualities which make those landscapes special
• To attach more weight to local decision-making in planning
• To achieve a balanced, planned electricity generation mix and not an unbalanced over-development of onshore wind
The MCofS is not opposed to wind farms on principle, and has only objected to 6 per cent of applications.
Dave Gordon added: “It’s in the interests of Scotland and of the energy industry itself to build wind power stations in the right places, so that they can be accepted as part of a diverse, long-term and affordable electricity generation mix.”
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