The statement below is issued on behalf of Scottish Land & Estates in response to the Scottish Government’s statement on hill tracks:
Anne Gray, of Scottish Land & Estates, said: “The Minister has recognised that hill tracks are an important aspect of rural development and landowners – many of whom are committed conservationists – understand that a balance has to be struck to help meet the needs of rural businesses while protecting the environment and natural heritage. We acknowledge there have been concerns about the impact of some tracks and, while we understand the Minister’s reasons for seeking to introduce a system of prior notification for private roads and ways across Scotland, we feel the Scottish Government have been too quick to revisit this issue. The decision to better promote best practice was taken a little over 18 months ago and there does not appear to be any substantial new evidence to suggest this approach is not working.
We also believe there may be a case for reconsidering whether prior notification is necessary for forestry tracks given the existing extensive approval processes forestry and associated tracks go through. However, much depends on how the new legislation is implemented and we seek to be fully involved in the process of developing guidance for planning authorities on this matter.
Scottish Land & Estates is working with Scottish Natural Heritage and the Heather Trust on a series of best practice events for tracks construction. The first of these events will take place in conjunction with Cairngorms National Park Authority this autumn.”