The Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions’ Committee recently heard evidence from SNH on wild land mapping. The Committee is considering a petition by the John Muir Trust calling for designation of wild land.
At the current time SNH provide wild land mapping as a strategic exercise to assist planning authorities in terms of the Scottish Planning Policy statement that “the most sensitive landscapes may have little or no capacity to accept new development and that planning authorities should safeguard the character of wild land areas in development plans”, and to keep Government informed as to the extent of land across Scotland considered to be of wild land character. In this respect SNH have recently published a new wild land map which updates a previous search areas map developed in 2002.
The current mapping does not go as far as designating land as “wild” – something the John Muir Trust wish to see happen. The recent Petitions’ Committee discussion reflected however the difficulties that would exist in terms of designating wild land, particularly when the mapping is based on the experience of wildness people have in a landscape and that this varies for person-to-person. SNH acknowledged in the discussion that Scotland “has a managed landscape that has evolved over thousands of years, and there is probably no – or very few – areas of anything that one could call natural wilderness”.
Paul Wheelhouse, the Minister for the Environment will be asked to give evidence in person at the next Public Petitions Committee. The Minister has previously indicated that he is “not persuaded that there is a case for a new statutory designation,” and has suggested that the current planning procedures provide an adequate safeguard.
To see the full Public Petitions’ Committee report go to – http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/28862.aspx?r=8081&mode=pdf
To see SNH’s Wild Land Mapping go to - http://www.snh.gov.uk/protecting-scotlands-nature/looking-after-landscapes/landscape-policy-and-guidance/wild-land/mapping/