Government urged not to water down wild land policy

wildlandThe Scottish Government plans to consult on the wild land map, drawn up by SNH, which will be used to define protected areas in any future wild land policy. This move has been seen by supporters of the proposed policy as a delaying tactic that is likely to result in a reduction and dilution of the proposed protected wild land areas.

Stuart Brooks, John Muir Trust chief executive said: “Responses to the Scottish Planning Policy consultation document reveal a concerted assault on the core wild land map by energy corporations and property developers.

“They clearly see Scotland’s wild land as a potential goldmine worth billions to their global shareholders.

“We expect that the Scottish Government will now come under ferocious pressure to either scrap the map, or to remove large tracts of wild land from the protection zone.

“These businesses have no expertise or interest in Scotland’s landscape or ecology. Their only expertise and interest is in making profit.

“Scottish Natural Heritage has spent many years identifying Scotland’s wild land, and establishing and refining clear geographical boundaries. This work must not be allowed to be undermined by the power of money.

“The message we will be sending to the Scottish Government is that our wild land is not a commodity to be bartered over, but a precious asset to be cherished, protected and restored for the benefit of our people, our wildlife and the wider world.”

Paul Webster of Walkhighlands said, “We would urge the Government to go ahead with the policy based on the existing wild land map and not to water down the proposed protection in the face of corporate pressure.”

The public supports a wild land policy with a YouGov poll of over 1000 people across Scotland this summer finding that over 75 per cent support strengthened protection for wild land with only six per cent opposed. In addition, the recently published Scottish Planning Policy consultation responses showed a two to one majority in favour of strengthened protection for wild land..

Of the fewer than 50 submissions opposing wild land, almost all were from businesses with a financial interest in exploiting Scotland’s wild land – two thirds of them from outside Scotland, and one third multinational corporations from outside the UK.

Of the more than 110 or so submissions supporting the wild land map, the vast majority came from Scotland, and included environmentalists, charities, businesses, local authorities, community groups, professional bodies and individuals.

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