BSCG and others have serious  concerns about the controversial first Local Plan for the Cairngorms National Park . Last October the then minister for planning indicated he considered judgement on the Cairngorms National Park Local Plan contravening the law to be a matter for the courts to decide.

See: Joint letter to Cabinet Secretary regarding Cairngorms National Park Local Plan

And: Stewart Stevenson response on 12-10-2010

A letter published in The Scotsman of 10 January concerning the decision by the CNPA not to follow the advise of planners on the Davall application in woodland at Boat of Garten.

The failure of the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) to refuse planning permission for circa 70 houses in a native pinewood important for capercaillie and red squirrels at Boat of Garten (your report, 8 January) should cause concern to all who cherish the wildlife and scenery of the Cairngorms National Park.

There are three aspects to this lamentable decision. Firstly, despite clear strong advice from the CNPA planners, officials and natural heritage staff, a majority of the board members chose to ignore several of the policies in their own recently-adopted local plan, and the first aim of the national park, as well as previous decisions of Scottish Government reporters.

Secondly, the excuse for this failure was (not for the first time) poor quality advice from Scottish Natural Heritage concerning capercaillie, which suggested, in the face of reason, that it might be possible to reduce to an acceptable level the recreational disturbance caused by building a housing estate in the wood.

Thirdly, this pinewood is owned by the huge Seafield Estate, which has refused meantime to consider releasing land elsewhere that could provide the relatively small number of dwellings to satisfy local demand.

I had hoped that the days of small communities being blackmailed into maximising the profits of large landowners and large developers, by being forced to accept far larger developments than needed, would have passed with the formation of the National Park. In contrast, the CNPA appears to have acceded to the wishes of landowners and developers at the expense of natural heritage and communities, and the disastrous consequences of such negligence of its statutory duties are now beginning to be revealed.


Nethy Bridge

BSCG deplores the narrow  decision by the CNPA board not to refuse the controversial major development in Boat of Garten Wood.

Following the discussions at Boat, RSPB Scotland spokesman Alan Tissiman said: “The capercaillie is an iconic Scottish bird whose population is extremely fragile. We believe that there may be little more than a thousand of these wonderful birds left in Scotland. Strathspey is the last remaining stronghold of the capercaillie and we have a responsibility to ensure that nothing is done that further threatens this endangered species.”

Sharing this view BSCG considers that we cannot afford to be complacent about the future of the capercaillie in Scotland. While any part of the Boat of Garten woodland remains within the settlement boundary the CNPA is failing this magnificent bird that it is well recognized is  extremely vulnerable to disturbance.

See CNPA Press Release: Housing development for Boat of Garten deferred - 7th January 2011

BSCG welcomes the CNPA Board’s unanimous refusal of the flawed application in School Wood, which is an Ancient Woodland Inventory site. However, we remain concerned that  School Wood  is still  threatened by any future housing proposal. BSCG continues to recommend that this irreplaceable native pinewood should not be developed.

CNPA Press Release: Lack of detail means refusal for Nethy development - 7th January 2011

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:

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.