The following letter by BSCG Vice convener Roy Turnbull published in the Scotsman of 2 May 2013 calls on the Scottish Government to rethink the controversial proposals for development of a new town in a National Scenic Area in Strathspey that continues to damage the reputation of the Cairngorms National Park Authority.

All the landscapes here have been described as highly sensitive to new housing development in a landscape capacity study and the proposal was not endorsed by two Planning Reporters who raised multiple concerns.

"Many will welcome the Scottish Government’s recent recognition of the value and fragility of sensitive landscapes, as expressed in its planned ban on wind farms in national parks and national scenic areas (your report, 1 May).

However, this policy sits uneasily with continuing plans for a new town ­development of 1,500 houses, with associated roads and ­infrastructure, at An Camas Mor on Rothiemurchus ­Estate in the Cairngorms ­National Park.

Rothiemurchus has been described as “one of the glories of wild Scotland” by Sir David Attenborough and the proposed development site, within the National Scenic Area, is presently a sensitive undeveloped area, including regenerating Caledonian pine woods.

Valued landscapes can be degraded by many forms of intrusive development. If the Scottish Government now explicitly recognises this danger with respect to wind farms, is it not time for a rethink on this plan for a new town in the Cairngorms National Park?"

There was a supportive response to this letter by Mike Underwood, Bad Planning.

Also Video nasty by Gus Jones of BSCG.

fresh water pearl mussel shells  discarded by poachers copyright Peter Cosgrove

Discarded shells of fresh water pearl mussels are evidence of illegal poaching in Scottish rivers. Copyright Peter Cosgrove.

Highland list MSP Mary Scanlon who is species champion for the freshwater pearl mussel (Margartifera margartifera) has asked questions about this globally threatened species that has a stronghold in the Highlands. Fresh water pearl mussels are meant to be protected in rivers like the River Spey where the pearl mussel is an internationally qualifying interest. Climate change, pollution and illegal persecution are however all problems faced by pearl mussels in Scotland. This remarkable mollusc is one of the species about which BSCG has consistently raised concern in the context of our legal challenge to the Cairngorms National Park 2010 local plan and appropriate assessment of housing allocations with implications for rivers like the Spey. The first Cairngorms Biodiversity Action Plan recognized the fresh water pearl mussel as a key cairngorms species.

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LBAP-2002-FWPM-800

The freshwater pearl mussel is one of the priority species mentioned and illustrated in the first Cairngorms LBAP that published these photos by Peter Cosgrove and Sue Scott.

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Mary Scanlon: To ask the Scottish Government how many people have been (a) prosecuted, (b) fined and (c) imprisoned under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 for taking, disturbing or harming a freshwater pearl mussel.
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Mary Scanlon: To ask the Scottish Government how many licences have been obtained to sell freshwater pearls from Scottish rivers in each of the last 14 years.
S4W-14153
Mary Scanlon: To ask the Scottish Government what action is being taken to ensure that the freshwater pearl mussel is protected while hydroelectric schemes are being developed in rivers with pearl mussel colonies.
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Mary Scanlon: To ask the Scottish Government what action is being taken to identify sites for a reintroduction programme for the freshwater pearl mussel.
S4W-14155
Mary Scanlon: To ask the Scottish Government how many freshwater pearl mussel sites have been found to be criminally damaged in each of the last 14 years.
S4W-14156
Mary Scanlon: To ask the Scottish Government what action is being taken to assess the freshwater pearl mussel populations in non-designated rivers.

MP Danny Alexander is a fan of micro breweries. In a debate in March 2013 he expressed admiration for micro-breweries saying " one in my constituency has recently produced a beer called Ginger Rodent, which sold out in its first run". BSCG is delighted that Danny has indicated that were he to be a Westminster Species Champion the species would have to be the red squirrel.

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Photo BSCG April 2013 Carrbridge.

BSCG calls on Danny Alexander MP to back crucial amendment to UK Energy Bill (‘the Yeo amendment’)

A crucial amendment to the Energy Bill needs support. The amendment would bring in a decarbonisation target in 2014 that many consider is vital to drive the investment required to help meet UK climate change targets.

BSCG is disappointed that so far Danny Alexander MP Liberal Democrat Treasury chief secretary has not supported this amendment. MPs and over 100 businesses and organisations including Siemens, ASDA, the Women’s Institute and Stop Climate Chaos Coalition have all backed this amendment which is also supported by independent experts.

Ed Davey, the Lib Dem energy and climate change secretary, has said that most businesses he has spoken to support the target contained in the Yeo amendment.

Danny’s lack of support to date is all the more disappointing because in April 2013 he said, “it is never too soon to tackle climate change” and in 2006, commenting on climate change, stated, there is “no more important concern on a global level” and "climate change is one of our biggest policy concerns”.

A WWF spokesperson, warning that the government was not aligning its policies with the advice of the statutory Energy and Climate Change Committee, has commented that, "The government has started to show a disturbing willingness to question the committee's advice. Ignoring it brings into question their commitment to deliver on the UK's world-leading Climate Change Act."

He has pointed out that the Yeo amendment “will give confidence to businesses and investors now, not at some vague point in the future as proposed by the government. A carbon intensity target would help the UK attract investment in a new British supply chain with thousands of jobs across the country and show that we're serious about reducing emissions and embracing clean renewable energy."

Only last year Danny Alexander accused some Conservatives of waging a "constant war of attrition" on green issues, warning that it is endangering billions in green investment, as well as the whole government growth strategy. He described how the government has to deal with conservative backbenchers – including those he calls "luddite" climate change deniers – opposing green technologies. He was reported as saying "I just don't think the British economy can any more afford to have a blue roadblock to green growth," We agree he is right to criticise those trying to claim that green policies will hinder growth if they make British industry less competitive (See Danny Alexander: Tories must stop trashing green agenda http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/sep/21/danny-alexander-stop-tories-trashing-green-agenda }

We hope Danny Alexander MP will eventually decide to back the Yeo amendment.

 

Continuing legal challenge to inappropriate developments in the Cairngorms National Park.
The treasured landscapes and wildlife of the Cairngorms need your help. Developers are planning a whole new town and several  large housing estates in sensitive areas in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park. BSCG has joined with the Cairngorms Campaign and the Scottish Campaign for National Parks to challenge this. We are appealing an important point of law in the September 21st  2012 Opinion  of Judge Lord Glennie that related to these potentially damaging proposals.
 
We and our QC respectfully believe that Lord Glennie misinterpreted the terms of the European Habitats Directive relating to the 'appropriate assessments' of Natura 2000 sites.
If we win this appeal, which is being heard on March 12th 2013,  it will be a significant judgement that should force the Cairngorms National Park Authority to revise its whole approach to safeguarding European sites. More widely it should help to ensure a stronger application of the Habitats Directive that would be more in line with a precautionary approach to planning development.
 
This challenge comes in the year of ‘Natural Scotland’. It also comes soon after the National Geographic magazine listed the Cairngorms as the only British entry in the Top 50 of the World’s Last Great Places, along with such locations as Madagascar and the  Gobi desert.
Legal action is serious and expensive: we need to urgently raise £30,000 to cover the cost of the court hearing.
 
All donations are most gratefully received and can be made by clicking the 'Donate' button to the right. For more information please visit safeguardthecairngoms.org.uk

 

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An Camas Mòr - Site Of Proposed 1500 House New Town Development

 

The treasured landscapes and wildlife of the Cairngorms need your help. Developers are planning a whole new town and several  large housing estates in sensitive areas in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park. BSCG has joined with the Cairngorms Campaign and the Scottish Campaign for National Parks to challenge this. We are appealing an important point of law in the September 21st  2012 Opinion  of Judge Lord Glennie that related to these potentially damaging proposals.

We and our QC respectfully believe that Lord Glennie misinterpreted the terms of the European Habitats Directive relating to the 'appropriate assessments' of Natura 2000 sites.If we win this appeal, which is being heard on March 12th 2013,  it will be a significant judgement that should force the Cairngorms National Park Authority to revise its whole approach to safeguarding European sites. More widely it should help to ensure a stronger application of the Habitats Directive that would be more in line with a precautionary approach to planning development. 

This challenge comes in the year of ‘Natural Scotland’. It also comes soon after the National Geographic magazine listed the Cairngorms as the only British entry in the Top 50 of the World’s Last Great Places, along with such locations as Madagascar and the  Gobi desert.Legal action is serious and expensive: we need to urgently raise £30,000 to cover the cost of the court hearing.

All donations are most gratefully received and can be made by clicking the 'Donate' button to the right. For more information please visit www.safeguardthecairngorms.org.uk

 

The case will be heard in the Court of Session in Edinburgh on Tuesday 12th and Wednesday 13th March 2013 starting at 10am each day. If you wish to attend simply go to the Court of Session on Parliament Square, Edinburgh (map), ask for the Cairngorms National Park case and the staff will tell you where to find the public gallery. We would welcome your presence in court.

VioletOilBeetle

Three cheers for those MSPs who have agreed to champion one of the Highland species affected by human impacts such as development, habitat loss, climate change and pollution.

Over twenty parliamentarians have signed up to the scheme. Champions for Highland wildife include Dave Stewart (Greater yellow bumblebee), Rhoda Grant (Golden eagle and wildcat), Mary Scanlon (Freshwater pearl mussel), Jamie McGrigor (narrow-headed ant), Rob Gibson (rusty bog moss), and Dave Thompson (sandeel). Mr Stewart recently tabled a parliamentary motion encouraging more MSPs to become wildllife champions, while Mr McGrigor has officially asked the government what it is doing to protect the narrow headed ant.

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But other species are in danger of being left on the shelf. They include -otters; adders; juniper; the one-flowered wintergreen; the dark bordered beauty; the pine hoverfly; the aspen hoverfly; the northern damselfly; the kentish glory, a moth extinct in England but found in the Highlands.

One species yet to find a champion is the Violet oil beetle (Meloe violaceus), a cuckoo of the insect world. The beetle's larvae find flowers likely to be visited by a solitary bee. When an unsuspecting bee appears, the larva hitches a ride to the bee's underground nest .Here it devours food the bee has gathered for its own young and eats the bee's own eggs. Oil beetles also produce a bitter 'oil' from their leg joints that wards off enemies. Intriguingly, this oil attracts midges that feed on the 'oil' without harming the beetle. Some oil beetle species are extinct in Britain.

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Many species with no parliamentary champions are associated with the Cairngorms. We hope that before Valentines day is over more of the unclaimed species will have found partners.

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