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CNPA welcomes hill tracks proposals in Government consultation

5th July 2012

The Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) says it welcomes the Scottish Government’s proposals to end permitted development rights for hill tracks within National Parks.

The CNPA is responding to the Scottish Government’s consultation on a number of changes to the planning system including the General Permitted Development Order, which refers to the range of development that can be carried out without requiring planning permission.

On the subject of hill tracks the CNPA says the Government’s proposals will provide clarity and will mean that poorly designed and located hill tracks that have caused serious concerns over the years would no longer go unchecked.

Duncan Bryden, CNPA Planning Committee Convener said: “Hill tracks in particular have been an issue since the Cairngorms National Park was designated. They have often been for purposes other than agriculture or forestry despite some assertions to the contrary and should therefore have been the subject of planning applications. The proposed new arrangements will make things much clearer and will help us to protect the special qualities of the Cairngorms National Park’s landscapes.

“Saying that, the CNPA is very committed to working with landowners and would encourage pre-application discussions to guide where new hill tracks could be sited and provide advice on the design to minimise the impact on the landscape.”

In responding to other aspects of the proposals the CNPA has taken a proportionate stance and highlighted that the removal of permitted development rights for a variety of facilities that generally help people in the National Park, such as shops, offices, hospitals and electric charging points for vehicles, is unnecessary and is not the right way to support businesses in difficult times.

The CNPA has also taken the opportunity to raise concerns about permitted development rights for railway undertakings, which currently allows Network Rail to erect masts or other structures without permission or without notifying communities or local authorities. The CNPA has proposed that Network Rail should have to apply for planning permission for masts in the National Park in the same way as mobile phone companies have to apply for consent.

CNPA Board Member, Cllr Kate Howie explained: “Network Rail is in the process of erecting communications masts throughout the country with no requirement to inform or consult with local communities and with no restrictions in place on height or location of these masts. These are having a significant impact on the landscape and while I appreciate there are operational or safety reasons for the masts, I think that any national body should endeavour to combine their operations and safety constraints with the visual and cultural impact on communities and their environs in the Park.”