Scottish Land & Estates has called for fewer bureaucratic burdens to be placed on those who wish to create and maintain farm and forestry tracks in Scotland.
Responding to the Scottish Government’s current consultation on Permitted Development Rights for farm and forestry access tracks, Policy Officer Anne Gray said the proposal being put forward by government is heavy handed despite no evidence existing as to the need for such an amount of paperwork for the vast majority of private tracks. She commented:
“The proposal being consulted on by the Scottish Government for the future of private roads and ways appears to be something of an excessive reaction to complaints by a handful of recreational groups about track developments in remote upland areas of Scotland. Landowners would require to undergo a full planning application every time a new or upgraded agricultural or forestry track is being sought no matter where in Scotland the track is situated if the proposals go ahead. Even maintenance of existing tracks in some areas would require a similar level of time consuming red tape.
“There are existing processes in place for the scrutiny of private track development. Forestry tracks in particular are already subject to environmental impact assessment processes which should be more than adequate to ensure their appropriate development. There are also a number of alternative options that the Government could consider before going down the proposed route.
“Scottish Land & Estates is calling for a much more targeted and proportionate response rather than the proverbial ‘sledgehammer to crack a nut’ approach being proposed. Without some reasoned application of the administrative burden large sectors of the already fragile rural economy risk being unduly burdened. Our recommendation would be for the closer adherence to current best practice guidance, coupled if necessary with light touch and better targeted regulation so that work on access tracks improves rather than detracts from the natural environment.
“Many and varied activities are facilitated by Scotland’s hill tracks and ways. Livestock, game and forestry management benefit alongside things as diverse as mountain rescue, wildfire monitoring and public outdoor leisure activities. In short, these tracks are the arteries that keep the lifeblood of rural Scotland alive by enabling access for all to Scotland’s idyllic countryside and their management should be made as streamlined as possible”.