On Friday 7th January 2011, the Cairngorms National Park Authority is to determine a planning application for 30 houses and 10 house plots in the ancient woodland of School Wood, Nethy Bridge. BSCG has consistently opposed this proposal since it first surfaced in the second draft of Highland Council's Local Plan in 1993. During the development of the now adopted CNPA Local Plan, BSCG argued that the allocation should be removed from the plan, a position that was supported by Scottish Government Reporters in their Report into the Local Plan Inquiry, published in December 2009, which recommended that "there should be a moratorium extending for the lifetime of the local plan on all housing and economic developments in Nethy Bridge, other than on windfall sites that already have detailed planning permission". This recommendation was ignored by the CNPA.
 
However, BSCG is pleased to note that the CNPA planner's recommendation for the determination on 7th January is for an unequivocal REFUSAL, see:
 
http://www.cairngorms.co.uk/resource/docs/boardpapers/07012011/
CNPA.Paper.3986.Planning%20Committee.Paper.2.School..pdf

 
This CNPA Report makes clear that "outline planning permission included requirements for the provision of "landscaping proposals including existing trees to be maintained and proposed tree and shrub planting to be carried out" (condition no. 1 C); "proposals for the management and maintenance of all areas ....outwith house curtilages" (condition no. 5); "detailed proposals for the disposal of all surface water drainage from all parts of the development" (condition no. 6); and “a programme of archaeological work for the preservation and recording of any archaeological features affected by the proposed development” (condition no. 14)." The CNPA planners emphasise that: "None of that required information has been submitted."
 
BSCG has submitted objections to this present application in School Wood. Our main objection is that the proposal is in conflict with the Cairngorms National Park Plan and Local Plan and with the CNPA Supplementary Planning Guidance on Natural Heritage and that it conflicts with all 4 aims of the National Park and runs contrary to the European Habitats Directive. Our other objection is that this application for full planning consent is not even consistent with the outline planning consent, which was for 20 houses and 20 house plots. Rather this application attempts to maximise the profits for the developer by suggesting 30 houses and 10 house plots in the application
 
Briefly, this is a wholly unacceptable planning application that runs counter to numerous National Park policies, does not abide by the outline consent, and has not been accompanied by any of the information required by the CNPA.

See Main BSCG School Wood objection to CNPA.

And Other BSCG School Wood Objection to CNPA.

See Natural defence against Cairngorms housing plan. "RED squirrels and capercaillie could block plans to build houses in a village in the Cairngorms National Park..."

crested tit at boat of garten wood 20110105 1429079749

Crested tit at Boat of Garten wood where this protected pinewood bird was found nesting in 2010. The lack of  breeding bird surveys by the developer has been criticised by local objectors.

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Smooth newt at Boat of Garten wood. The lack of any survey of amphibians or reptiles by the developers has  been criticised by local objectors. BSCG  reported both palmate and smooth newt within the Boat of Garten development site in 2010.

Herald Scotland article: ‘Wave of conflict’ over national park housing.

"This damaging development plan is destructive of the special features that the national park was set up to conserve and enhance,” said Dr Gus Jones, convenor of the Badenoch and Strathspey Conservation Group.

Press & Journal: Cairngorms plan ‘promotes destruction of national park’

“The natural environment and local communities are paying the price for a park authority that has unacceptably ignored its principal duties. "
Gus Jones, convener of the Badenoch and Strathspey Conservation Group, said: “This plan promotes the destruction of irreplaceable natural heritage in the Cairngorms and promotes excessive, open market development that is destroying the very special features the national park authority has a legal duty to protect.
“The natural environment and local communities are paying the price for a park authority that has unacceptably ignored its principal duties."
Plans for major new housing schemes in Britain’s biggest national park are in breach of the law and amount to a “shocking betrayal” of what the park is meant to stand for, say environmental groups. See report on Rob Edwards - Environmental News and Comment site.

Dear Sir,
 
It is slightly encouraging to note the dismissal by Roseanna Cunningham, Scottish environment minister, of reports that the Forestry Commission Scotland might be required to sell off its forests in line with its English counterpart, (your report, 25 October).
Many will concur with her affirmation that "we believe Scotland's national forests are a very precious asset" and her earlier "it is quite shocking to think that we only have a tiny remnant of our original native woodland left, due to historical exploitation" (your report, 11 May).

It is all the more puzzling, and unacceptable, therefore, that the Scottish Government has done nothing to prevent the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) from targeting native woodlands for housing developments in its local plan.

This latter is due to be adopted on 29 October, and includes provision for several hundred houses that will destroy areas of pinewoods, some listed as ancient woodland.

Scottish Government reporters advised against these housing allocations in woodlands, following a local plan inquiry (LPI) in 2009, but the CNPA largely ignored their recommendations. Now, despite receiving a letter signed by 16 environmental organisations urging Scottish ministers to intervene and recommending "broad acceptance of the findings" of the LPI, no action has been taken by government. Ms Cunningham may be shocked at the historic destruction of Scotland's native woodlands. Many will be shocked at her failure to prevent further such destruction in Scotland's premier national park.
 
Roy Turnbull
Vice-convener, BSCG

Original published letter in The Scotsman: http://news.scotsman.com/letters/Letter-Woodland-threats.6598247.jp

BSCG gave an interview to the BBC  for the Reporting Scotland news programme (see link for video) over the sudden Cairngorm Mountain Limited announcement about trial guided walks to the summit of Cairngorm. This was considered before the funicular got planning permission when it was considered impractical.

Passengers to go off the beaten track - Press and Journal

Mountain rail doors to open - Strathspey Herald

All change for the summit as Cairn Gorm passengers allowed to top - The Scotsman

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