- Written by Tessa Jones
- Category: Campaigns
- Published: 22 August 2016
BSCG is concerned about inappropriate development at Badaguish - Speyside Trust's outdoor development in the heart of Glenmore forest. The Cairngorms National Park Authority’s poor planning and ineffectual enforcement are causing damage to this prime area of Caledonian forest. Glenmore is one of Scotland's most important forests, yet the CNPA are approving further unnecessary and unsustainable developments within it. Major issues include numerous breaches of planning rules, provision of false information and pervasive haphazard development. The CNPA’s extreme unwillingness to say no to any proposal at Badaguish is resulting in major long term environmental degradation. This is eroding the special qualities of the national Park that the Authority is supposed to be conserving and enhancing.
The latest unanimous approval by the National Park Authority includes permission for a new car park and unsightly portaloos, neither of which are justified. The development will increase traffic on the road through Badaguish on a stretch already shared with cyclists, walkers and horse-riders. The CNPA did not even consider a traffic-free access route. On top of this, the CNPA have never mentioned the fact that new, additional car parking on public ground in Glenmore contravenes their own transport strategy for this core part of the National Park. So why didn’t the Board members simply reject the whole application? Are they under orders not to rock the boat?
As well as approving damaging development, the CNPA have failed to enforce mitigation measures they demanded as conditions for planning consents. For example, tree planting was supposed to mitigate for deforestation and impacts on capercaillie - but it is years late, only half done and much of it is already dead and dying. Meanwhile, the development area is a massive scar on the landscape that is visible from surrounding hills and will be that way for years to come. Furthermore, the predicted ‘likely significant impacts’ on one of Scotland’s most endangered birds, the Capercaillie, is effectively unmitigated by this failed planting.
The other main component of mitigation for capercaillie was the provision of signs asking people to stick to tracks, but these signs were never erected and for the best part of a year the CNPA didn’t enforce compliance. It was only on the day before the CNPA’s decisive meeting (19 August 2016), just hours after BSCG informed the Board of the absent signs, that these miraculously appeared (albeit with a typo).
Of even greater concern, the CNPA mislead the public and the Board by claiming a ‘Masterplan’ for developments at Badaguish existed. Such plans are a vital part of good planning and should prevent the type of chaotic development that plagues Badaguish. On three occasions the CNPA have claimed the existence of such a plan: in writing to BSCG, at the July planning committee meeting, and in documents for the decision meeting in August. The day before the August meeting, BSCG informed the Board that the ‘Masterplan’ that the CNPA planners were claiming existed contravened the standards for a Masterplan set by the Scottish Government’s guidance. Consequently, the CNPA planners had the embarrassing task of explaining that the document they had labelled as ‘Appendix 4 Masterplan’ was not actually a Masterplan ‘in the true sense of the word’. Only days before, the CNPA planner emailed BSCG stating that not only this document, but also 2 others, all constituted Masterplans for this site.
Scottish Government guidance on Masterplanning emphasises the importance of public involvement in Masterplanning. The document the planners tried to pass off as a Masterplan was made public only a week before the meeting and is called ‘Site Layout Plan January 2016’.
The record of the CNPA at Badaguish is worrying. They are approving haphazard and chaotic development, failing to enforce their own mitigation requirements, and attempting to mislead the public and the Board.
- Written by Roy Turnbull
- Category: Debates
- Published: 13 April 2016
On Monday, April 4, The Scotsman published an article giving the sporting estates' defence of muirburn - the burning of heather during grouse moor management.
On Friday, you published the results of research from Edinburgh and Aberdeen Universities, indicating that adopting the latest "sustainable land use practices" would allow the locking away, or sequestration, of huge quantities of greenhouse gases in "farmland and natural wild spaces".
Thus we witness a nineteenth century indulgence confronted by twenty first century reality.
Recent muirburn next to woodland in the Cairngorms National Park, Spring 2016.
Grouse moors and deer stalking estates have this in common: they both minimise carbon sequestration.
Burning of grouse moors and over-grazing of stalking estates prevents woodland regeneration and devastates ground vegetation, whilst compacting soils and reducing their carbon retention capacities. These systems are the very opposite of "sustainable land use practices" if that sustainability has any reference to the aspirations of the recent Paris summit on climate change, to which our governments are committed.
The questions arise: How long, in a world divesting its money from fossil fuels and increasingly desperate about global warming, can these anachronistic and damaging land-uses prevail? When will the monetary value of sporting estates begin to plummet? How long will it take before the Scottish Government faces up to this reality and provides scientifically appropriate legislation to govern the demise and transition of Scotland's sporting estates?
Nethy Bridge, Inverness-shire
- Written by Tessa Jones
- Category: Meetings
- Published: 31 March 2016
7pm - 9pm on Thursday 21 April.
Covering the two constituencies of: Inverness and Nairn; and Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch.
Free, all welcome.
Location: Aviemore Community Centre, Muirton, Aviemore, PH22 1SF.
The candidates who attended the hustings:
Conservative - Edward Mountain, Strathspey
Green - Isla O'Reilly, H&I list
Labour - David Stewart, Strathspey
LibDem - Carolyn Caddick - Strathspey
RISE - Jean Urquhart, H&I list
SNP - Maree Todd, H&I list
Solidarity - Liz Walker, H&I list
UKIP - Philip Anderson, H&I list
- Written by Gus Jones
- Category: Meetings
- Published: 24 March 2016
We are delighted that Clare Symonds will be giving BSCG a talk about improving planning in Scotland on Wednesday 30 March in Carrbridge village Hall at 7.30pm. Clare is the founder and chair of Planning Democracy and has been recognised in the Scottish Sustainable Development Forum’s Green List for her work to improve community engagement in Scottish planning. Clare has worked on community empowerment issues in both local government and the voluntary sector strengthening her belief that a robust, democratic planning system is crucial for shaping fairer and more sustainable places.
Planning Democracy is a national charity established in 2009 with the aim of strengthening democracy by promoting a stronger public voice in the Scottish land-use planning system. Planning Democracy was established in response to growing concerns from individuals and groups who found that Scotland's planning reforms, implemented in 2009, had made little difference to their ability to understand and influence the planning process. There is a perceived failure of democratic planning which has resulted in many people feeling dis-empowered, and unable to influence what happens in their own areas. The concern it holds is that this situation leads to development being strongly dictated by market forces and has huge implications for social and environmental injustices. Planning Democracy wants to ensure the public is fairly and equitably involved in the planning process believing this will lead to more locally accountable, robust planning decisions, driven by need rather than profit.
Planning Democracy is a campaigning and influencing charity. It is the only organisation in Scotland representing the community perspective and promoting cultural and structural changes to facilitate greater public participation in Scotland's planning system.
With growing calls for a fairer and more balanced planning system and with an election for the Scottish Parliament approaching, Clare’s talk that will encompass some of the range of the work of Planning Democracy promises to be particularly timely.
- Written by Gus Jones
- Category: Plants
- Published: 24 March 2016
Teamwork on the outskirts of the ‘Forest Village’ of Nethybridge has delivered a successful conservation outcome for attractive pinewood plants. Recognizing that two kinds of wintergreen were at risk along a verge earmarked for the laying of a broadband cable, BSCG volunteers marked the plants with high visibility tape enabling contractors A. Willox & Sons to take the cable along a route that skirted the wintergreens.
Complimenting the teamwork with A Willox & Son, Dr Deborah Long, Head of Plantlife Scotland said, ‘This is a really good example of all the benefits that can be achieved when local conservation groups work with contractors. The wintergreens are a group of beautiful flowers that are highly characteristic of our native pinewoods. It is heartening to see their conservation as a key part of road verge management, which is sensitive enough to avoid harm to these plants, securing a stronger future for them in the National Park.’