|Bulldozed road in the Eastern Highlands|
Finally, after years of pressure and campaigning by individuals and organisations (especially the Mountaineering Council of Scotland and the John Muir Trust) the Scottish government has announced new planning controls for bulldozed roads, to be introduced later this year. Until now roads for 'agricultural and forestry purposes' haven't need planning permission. Many hill roads are clearly not for these purposes but have avoided control by claiming to be so. Now all roads will require planning permission and "planning authorities will be able to consider how proposed tracks will impact on the environment and intervene to ensure that design, siting and appearance are acceptable".
Planning Minister Derek Mackay said "without proper controls and effective enforcement measures, the construction of hilltracks can damage our environment". This can be seen in too many places in the Scottish hills already. Preventing further roads is a start. Eventually many roads should be removed.
Derek Mackay also said "it’s important that planning policy strikes the right balance between meeting the needs of rural businesses but also protects Scotland’s environment, amenity and heritage". How that balance is struck will determine just how effective the new planning controls will be.