As a result of bad planning a Lochan in Aviemore  could be tesco-ed needlessly destroying the home of the UK’s scarcest damselfly the northern damselfly (see http://www.buglife.org.uk/Resources/Buglife/Documents/ScottishInvertebrateNews_2_2.pdf .)
BSCG is disappointed that our call to CNPA staff for a flawed  planning paper to be withdrawn has been rejected .
The response by the CNPA to our call contained in a letter to senior CNPA staff  fails to explain why CNPA planners  have appeared to disregard guidelines on translocation that their own specialists have advised.
As reported on the front page of the Strathspey and Badenoch Herald (25 April) we have commented that:
“The translocation has to be demonstrated to be successful before the donor pond is destroyed and made into the Tesco car park. It is self evident that the existing donor lochan on the site must be safeguarded until several generations of the rarest species such as the northern damselfly have been proved to have successfully bred at any new pond”.
In our view the CNPA  planners are unnecessarily pursuing a course of action which rides roughshod over  the 2004 Nature Conservation Scotland Act.  As the CNPAs adviser has made plain  A translocation programme should follow the guidelines for translocating species as laid down by the JNCC “A Policy for Conservation”
BSCG will be making public how board members who are also standing for council elections will vote to help conservation minded voters make their choice in the forthcoming elections.

IMG_4901-900x600

As a result of bad planning a lochan in Aviemore could be tesco-ed needlessly destroying the home of the UK’s scarcest damselfly the northern damselfly (see Scottish Invertebrate News PDF).

BSCG is disappointed that our call to CNPA staff for a flawed planning paper to be withdrawn has been rejected .

The response by the CNPA to our call contained in a letter to senior CNPA staff  fails to explain why CNPA planners  have appeared to disregard guidelines on translocation that their own specialists have advised.

As reported on the front page of the Strathspey and Badenoch Herald (25 April) we have commented that:

“The translocation has to be demonstrated to be successful before the donor pond is destroyed and made into the Tesco car park. It is self evident that the existing donor lochan on the site must be safeguarded until several generations of the rarest species such as the northern damselfly have been proved to have successfully bred at any new pond”.

In our view the CNPA  planners are unnecessarily pursuing a course of action which rides roughshod over  the 2004 Nature Conservation Scotland Act.  As the CNPAs adviser has made plain  A translocation programme should follow the guidelines for translocating species as laid down by the JNCC “A Policy for Conservation”

BSCG will be making public how board members who are also standing for council elections will vote to help conservation minded voters make their choice in the forthcoming elections.

The Botanical Society of the British Isles (BSBI) is for everyone who is interested in the flora of Britain and Ireland. It is the largest and most active organisation devoted to the study of botany in the British Isles.

The first ever checklist of vascular plants of the Cairngorms National Park has been compiled based on an analysis of 281,000 botanical records collected and compiled by the BSBI. The Checklist : The Flora of the Cairngorms National Park - An Annotated Checklist by Andy Amphlett is intended to be of interest and use to local and visiting naturalists, landowners and managers, professional agencies and visitors. Hopefully it will also be a stimulus to further recording. The Checklist is made freely available as a download from http://www.bsbi.org.uk/site_floras.html

The Checklist is available in summary pdf format, and as an Excel file. The latter provides the greatest flexibility for assessing the flora of any individual site against the CNP as a whole. This provides a powerful analytic tool to assess conservation significance, and will hopefully inform development decisions.

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Heath cudweed Gnaphalium sylvaticum one of the scarce
plants BSCG has found at at a threatened site in Carrbridge.

The Checklist lists 1699 unique taxa, plus 34 aggregate taxa. 67.8% of taxa are native to the CNP, 6.4% archaeophyte (ancient introductions to GB) and 25.8% neophyte (recently introduced aliens). 123 taxa are endemic to Great Britain, of which 19 are endemic to the CNP and a further 57 endemic to Scotland. 1428 taxa (82.4%) have been recorded over the last 25 years, 1987 – 2011, while 106 taxa (6.1%) have not been seen since before 1970.

The table below summarises those native and archaeophyte taxa:

  • Of international or national conservation concern.
  • Rare in the CNP.
  • Not recorded for >25 years in the CNP.
  • Whose hectad (10km grid square) frequency in the CNP indicates that the CNP population is of moderate, high or very high significance within Great Britain.

table01s

The next phase of this project will be to compile a Cairngorms National Park Rare Plant Register. This will list the most recent record at each known site, for all c.758 taxa which are of national conservation concern or that are rare in the CNP.

BSBI especially through its system of vice-county recorders provided the bulk of the data. In the acknowledgements to his Check list the author lists the support provided by BSBI and Scottish Natural Heritage in undertaking the project. He further thanks NESBReC, NTS, RSPB, FES, and individual recorders for additional records and Tim Rich, Bert Reid and Mark Hill for support. Andy Amphlett and those who have helped him produce this important checklist are to be congratulated.

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Northern or hairy wood ant Formica lugubris in School Wood
Nethybridge. School Wood is on the Ancient Woodland Inventory and is
threatened by inappropriate development.
Northern or hairy wood ant Formica lugubris in School Wood Nethybridge.
School Wood is on the Ancient Woodland Inventory and is threatened by inappropriate development.

Wood ants are one of the most important ecological players in Caledonian pinewood forest and are also found in forest edge and some rich lowland heathland and bog woodland habitats. These 'keystone species' can be viewed as good indicators of the health of some of our most iconic habitats.

narrow-headed-ant-carrbridge
The narrow headed ant has its most northern known UK population  at
Carrbridge where this photo was taken on a threatened site.

In Strathspey we have all the four kinds of wood ants that occur in Scotland, including the largest and most northern known surviving population of the narrow headed ant (Formica exsecta) in the UK. This ant is a UK Red Data Book 1 species. Two of our wood ants, the hairy or northern wood ant and the Scottish wood ant (F. lugubris and F. aquilonia), are on the Scottish Biodiversity List. This list contains species considered by Scottish ministers to be a priority for conservation (for purpose of the Nature Conservation Scotland Act). The blood red slave-maker ant (F. sanguinea) is believed to have declined in recent years in our district and tends to make a less elaborate nest than other wood ants and is easiest to find on sunny days in relatively open habitats.

The shining guest ant (Formicoxenus nitidulus) makes its home in the nests of various wood ants. It is considered to be at the northern limit of its range in the UK in our district, where it is rare. The gallows spider (Dipoena torva) feeds on wood ants. Both these species associated with wood ants are also on the Scottish Biodiversity List. The gallows spider has been found on two sites controlled by developer Tullochs. Both these sites are currently threatened by inappropriate development and are included in the legal challenge taken against the local plan of the Cairngorms National Park Authority. At least two species of wood ant are also found on the threatened An Camas Mor site.

With other organisations that recognize that wood ants need friends BSCG is supporting the wonderful wood ants initiative see:

www.woodants.org.uk
www.facebook.com/pages/Wonderful-Wood-Ants

Planning Democracy campaigns for a fair and inclusive planning system in Scotland.  The charity will hold its conference, 'Planning: The People's Perspective' in Edinburgh on April 21.  Not content with inviting anyone with an interest in, or experience of, land use planning in Scotland to attend, P.D. hopes we will invite our elected representatives to become “keynote listeners” at the event and hear how those who experience the Scottish planning system first hand feel about it.
Clare Symonds, founder of Planning Democracy says of the conference:
“Scotland's planning system is weighted against ordinary people, the very people who will be affected and who should be able to influence it.  It is time to rebalance the system and give people more rights and to make it far more inclusive than it is. This conference intends to show how ordinary people experience the planning system and to gather people together to work together to make it fairer.”
At the conference you will
hear how well the planning system works for ordinary people,
hear Planning Democracy’s views on how to campaign for a more inclusive system
hear other people's views on the planning system
You will have the opportunity to
meet other people and exchange experiences of planning
attend workshops on a variety of issues from access to justice, planning appeals, to making complaints and Freedom of Information
work with Planning Democracy to campaign for change where it is needed.
The conference is affordable (£10) and is held on a Saturday in central Edinburgh, close to the train and bus stations. Refreshments and lunch are included in the price.
Representatives from organisations such as The Information Commission, the Public Services Ombudsman, the Directorate for Planning and Environmental Appeals (DPEA) as well as legal firms and environmental NGO's such as Friends of the Earth  will be attending and providing afternoon workshops.
For more information follow this link.

Planning Democracy campaigns for a fair and inclusive planning system in Scotland.  The charity will hold its conference, 'Planning: The People's Perspective' in Edinburgh on April 21.  Not content with inviting anyone with an interest in, or experience of, land use planning in Scotland to attend, P.D. hopes we will invite our elected representatives to become “keynote listeners” at the event and hear how those who experience the Scottish planning system first hand feel about it.

Clare Symonds, founder of Planning Democracy says of the conference:

“Scotland's planning system is weighted against ordinary people, the very people who will be affected and who should be able to influence it.  It is time to rebalance the system and give people more rights and to make it far more inclusive than it is. This conference intends to show how ordinary people experience the planning system and to gather people together to work together to make it fairer.”

At the conference you will

  • hear how well the planning system works for ordinary people,
  • hear Planning Democracy’s views on how to campaign for a more inclusive system
  • hear other people's views on the planning system

You will have the opportunity to

  • meet other people and exchange experiences of planning
  • attend workshops on a variety of issues from access to justice, planning appeals, to making complaints and Freedom of Information
  • work with Planning Democracy to campaign for change where it is needed.

The conference is affordable (£10) and is held on a Saturday in central Edinburgh, close to the train and bus stations. Refreshments and lunch are included in the price.

Representatives from organisations such as The Information Commission, the Public Services Ombudsman, the Directorate for Planning and Environmental Appeals (DPEA) as well as legal firms and environmental NGO's such as Friends of the Earth  will be attending and providing afternoon workshops.

For more information follow this link.

Following four days in the Court of Session in Edinburgh It is likely to be some months before we can expect the judgement of Lord Glennie in the case challenging the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) over the 2010 local Plan for the National Park. The case challengess a number of allocations in the local plan adopted by the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA). The grounds  include that the CNPA failed to take reasonable account of damaging environmental impacts, in spite of legal obligations including the founding legislation for National Parks in Scotland. The case was brought by BSCG jointly with the fellow environmental groups the Cairngorms Campaign and the Scottish Campaign for National Parks. All parties appeared grateful that the judge allowed extra time on the last day avoiding the delays and added expense of extending the proceedings to a later date.
Sir Crispin Agnew QC pesented the case for BSCG and our co appellants. Douglas Armstrong QC presented the response for the Cairngorms National Parks Authority. The Convener for the National Park Authority described   the CNPA as defending the case “robustly”.  James Findlay QC represented  three further respondents  ( developers and landowning interests)  each involved with sites where housing  allocation in the local plan could be quashed by the court.
One outcome we are hoping for is that   allocations for new built development will be quashed. The allocations raised in the case are at Nethybridge, Carrbridge, Kingussie and An Camas Mor.   The largest of these is the An Camas Mor 1500 house new town proposal in the Cairngorms National Scenic Area across the River Spey from Aviemore.
Another outcome of the judgement could  be to clarify important matters of legal principle of general  public interest;  such as giving timely and due weight to environmental concerns in the planning process.  We have consistently maintained   that to deliver conservation objectives requires timely and realistic   assessment of the likely   environmental implications of developments, applying the precautionary principle whenever appropriate. At a top tier site we look for standards of governance sufficient to ensure that serious concerns including ones related to species that are known to be globally threatened are taken properly into account.
On the final day of the case the court discussed the possibility of a future hearing to deal with some matters that may require to be resolved depending on the findings of the Court.
In what can be viewed as a David and Goliath struggle we have been deeply heartened by the breadth of public support that we continue to receive. Without the generosity of literally hundreds of people and a number of organisations we would have been unable to take our case to court.
Needless to say BSCG and our co appellants consider our grievances amply merit the intense high level legal scrutiny to which they have now been subjected.  We now hope the judgement when it comes will deliver positively for the environment conservation and the future of   the Cairngorms area that is deservedly so special and dear to the hearts of so many.

Following four days in the Court of Session in Edinburgh It is likely to be some months before we can expect the judgement of Lord Glennie in the case challenging the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) over the 2010 local Plan for the National Park. The case challengess a number of allocations in the local plan adopted by the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA). The grounds  include that the CNPA failed to take reasonable account of damaging environmental impacts, in spite of legal obligations including the founding legislation for National Parks in Scotland. The case was brought by BSCG jointly with the fellow environmental groups the Cairngorms Campaign and the Scottish Campaign for National Parks. All parties appeared grateful that the judge allowed extra time on the last day avoiding the delays and added expense of extending the proceedings to a later date.    

Sir Crispin Agnew QC pesented the case for BSCG and our co appellants. Douglas Armstrong QC presented the response for the Cairngorms National Parks Authority. The Convener for the National Park Authority described   the CNPA as defending the case “robustly”.  James Findlay QC represented  three further respondents  ( developers and landowning interests)  each involved with sites where housing  allocation in the local plan could be quashed by the court.

One outcome we are hoping for is that   allocations for new built development will be quashed. The allocations raised in the case are at Nethybridge, Carrbridge, Kingussie and An Camas Mor.   The largest of these is the An Camas Mor 1500 house new town proposal in the Cairngorms National Scenic Area across the River Spey from Aviemore.

Another outcome of the judgement could  be to clarify important matters of legal principle of general  public interest;  such as giving timely and due weight to environmental concerns in the planning process.  We have consistently maintained   that to deliver conservation objectives requires timely and realistic   assessment of the likely   environmental implications of developments, applying the precautionary principle whenever appropriate. At a top tier site we look for standards of governance sufficient to ensure that serious concerns including ones related to species that are known to be globally threatened are taken properly into account.

On the final day of the case the court discussed the possibility of a future hearing to deal with some matters that may require to be resolved depending on the findings of the Court.

In what can be viewed as a David and Goliath struggle we have been deeply heartened by the breadth of public support that we continue to receive. Without the generosity of literally hundreds of people and a number of organisations we would have been unable to take our case to court.

Needless to say BSCG and our co appellants consider our grievances amply merit the intense high level legal scrutiny to which they have now been subjected.  We now hope the judgement when it comes will deliver positively for the environment conservation and the future of   the Cairngorms area that is deservedly so special and dear to the hearts of so many.

Friends of the Earth Scotland are understood to be the first Scottish NGO to intervene in a case at the UK Supreme Court. The organisation took the decision to intervene in a case involving pleural plaque sufferers. This case   provided an opportunity to challenge the restrictive interpretation that courts in Scotland have sometimes placed on 'title and interest', which is the Scots Law test of standing: the right to have your case heard by the court. Despite supporting the involvement of the pleural plaque sufferers, the Scottish Government opposed Friends of the Earth Scotland's intervention.
Significantly the court ruling upheld the right of campaign groups to have cases heard in a Scottish court soley on public interest grounds.
Title and interest' has been an issue in a number of high-profile environmental cases in recent months such as when local resident, Molly Forbes, was deemed not to have 'title and interest' in her judicial review against Donald Trump and Aberdeenshire Council.
In championing access to environmental justice Friends of the Earth Scotland have called on the Scottish government to make it easier for breaches of environmental law and poor decisions to be challenged. Friends of the Earth Scotland is part of the largest grassroots environmental network in the world, uniting over 2 million supporters, 77 national member groups, and some 5,000 local activist groups - covering every continent. BSCG welcomes support from Friends of the Earth Scotland for our fight for environmental justice in the Cairngorms National Park.

Access to environmental justice is featured in the 2011  Autumn/ Winter issue of the Friends of the Earth supporters magazine 'What On Earth'

Friends of the Earth Scotland are understood to be the first Scottish NGO to intervene in a case at the UK Supreme Court. The organisation took the decision to intervene in a case involving pleural plaque sufferers. This case   provided an opportunity to challenge the restrictive interpretation that courts in Scotland have sometimes placed on 'title and interest', which is the Scots Law test of standing: the right to have your case heard by the court. Despite supporting the involvement of the pleural plaque sufferers, the Scottish Government opposed Friends of the Earth Scotland's intervention.

Significantly the court ruling upheld the right of campaign groups to have cases heard in a Scottish court soley on public interest grounds.

Title and interest' has been an issue in a number of high-profile environmental cases in recent months such as when local resident, Molly Forbes, was deemed not to have 'title and interest' in her judicial review against Donald Trump and Aberdeenshire Council. 

In championing access to environmental justice Friends of the Earth Scotland have called on the Scottish government to make it easier for breaches of environmental law and poor decisions to be challenged. Friends of the Earth Scotland is part of the largest grassroots environmental network in the world, uniting over 2 million supporters, 77 national member groups, and some 5,000 local activist groups - covering every continent. BSCG welcomes support from Friends of the Earth Scotland for our fight for environmental justice in the Cairngorms National Park.

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