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CNPA plea not to relax rules on hill tracks

27th June 2011

The Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) is to raise concerns about the impact a change in law may have on the landscape of the National Park.

The CNPA’s Planning Committee meeting on Friday (24 June) in Kingussie, agreed its response to a Scottish Government consultation paper which proposes to give developers more freedom to develop their land by removing the need for some planning applications.

The consultation relates to non-domestic elements of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (Scotland) Order 1992. As part of its consultation response, the CNPA is proposing that they be notified before certain works, including hill tracks, are carried out.

CNPA Enforcement Officer Bruce Luffman said: “Currently farmers have to notify the local authority if they intend to construct agricultural buildings on their land. We would like to see a similar system in respect to the construction or maintenance of hill tracks whereby the planning authority would have 28 days to make comments and give advice or ask for a planning application if the works are significant to the first aim of the Park. This would give the CNPA the opportunity to have some control over construction in respect of the impact on the landscape.

“It is important to stress that hill tracks are important for land management purposes, purposes which contribute towards the aims of the Park in various ways. We are not against hill tracks but we would like to encourage dialogue before they are constructed to ensure they are built well and in the right place.”

CNPA Planning Committee Chairman, Duncan Bryden, said: “There is significant evidence of tracks being built to a much higher standard than was previously the case and the careful and sympathetic restoration of existing tracks is welcome. We recognise and appreciate the use estates and other land managers may make of their network of routes to support the land management activities that are an important part of the local economy.

“However, we consider it important for the CNPA to have the ability to respond to legitimate public interest from hill goers and others in track construction and management, especially tracks occurring or planned in higher, remote or scenic parts of the UK’s largest National Park – a special place to be enjoyed by many people now and in the future.”

“Our main concern is the impact that will be seen on the landscape of the National Park if the rules on what is permitted development – that is development without the need for planning permission – are changed. Hill tracks, private roads and ways are not uncommon in the National Park – the question is do we really want to lose the ability to say when works will have a detrimental effect on the landscape of the Park?”

The consultation response also covers a number of other areas which potentially impact on the National Park including caravan parks, open air markets and temporary structures.