Formica-lugubris--credit-BSCG-800
Hairy wood ants on threatened sites in Strathspey.

The Scotsman newspaper has reported on 25 August 2012 that despite "tiger like ferocity and chemical weapons" wood ants including the hairy wood ant that are among key species on Scotlands nationwide biodiversity list are still no match against destructive development in Strathspey.

See The Scotsman.

IMG_0284_web_large

Wood ant nest near  proposed caravan site at Granish.

Hairy-wood-ant-with-aphids-credit-BSCG-600
Hairy wood ants on threatened sites in Strathspey.

Letter published in Strathspey and Badenoch Herald 23 August 2012

Dear Sir,

In promotional advertisements for Rothiemurchus Estate, Sir David Attenborough is quoted as describing this key location within the Cairngorms National Park as “one of the glories of wild Scotland”, (Strathy, 9th August).  The ‘An Camas Mor’ or ‘Cambusmore’  area of the estate  near the River Spey is known to be a remarkable site within Rothiemurchus. It falls entirely within a National Scenic Area and supports priority habitats and priority species.  It includes stands of trees on the Ancient Woodland Inventory and lies near to sensitive European Conservation sites. The site lies within one of the highest ranked important areas for invertebrates in the Cairngorms area and is a home to protected wildlife.

An Camas Mor, Rothiemurchus
An Camas Mor, Rothiemurchus.

On the one hand,  Rothiemurchus estate proudly advertises glorious wild countryside. On the  other hand, ACM LLP, whose partners are the laird of the estate and his son, is pushing  to secure permission for an entire new town of 1500 houses at An Camas Mor. The controversial position adopted by the Cairngorms National Park Authority has been to give strong support to this proposal.

The Chief Executive of the CNPA, Jane Hope, has told readers (May 24) that a large new development at ACM would “take the pressure off the countryside” i.e. would take the pressure off  for developments in other parts of the National Park, the pretence being that if the Strath had a new town there would not be need for so many other developments elsewhere.

However, this claim is flawed and unreasonable. Firstly, An Camas Mor is itself prime quality countryside. Secondly,  there is no evidence that the pressure for development elsewhere has been relieved: quite the contrary.

It is lamentable that in a key area of the Cairngorms National Park one of Attenborough’s glories of wild Scotland is under assault, whilst his name is apparently being used to suggest otherwise.

Yours sincerely,

Roy Turnbull (Vice-convener, Badenoch and Strathspey Conservation Group)

On Sunday 22 June BSCG discovered that a New National Park Plan with a a forward by Minister for the Environment and Climate change has been posted on the CNPA website.
The Badenoch & Strathspey Conservation Group has commented on this:-
"Responsible planning in National Parks should be one of the foremost methods by which landscapes, habitats and species are protected. The quality of Scotland’s natural environment is fundamental to people’s livelihoods and quality of life.
We are concerned that aspects of the consultation process were flawed, ignoring some serious concerns about safeguarding the natural and cultural heritage and giving insufficient attention to national interests. It is wrong if many of those making the effort to respond to the consultation end up concluding that the process was a ‘stitch up’ from the start, with short term thinking taking undue precedence. We do not see the minister’s expressions of approval for the consultation process as reflecting the experience of our community group.
We are concerned that this document is devoid of serious targets properly reflecting the statutory aims of the park and that this deficiency will open the way to further damaging development.
We and others have queried why the National Park Authority has launched into producing a new National Park Plan before the first plan had run its course or the out of date 2002 Cairngorms Biodiversity Action Plan has been updated. Certainly the second park plan with its shortened horizons appears depressingly devoid of tangible long term targets. Pretty pictures and fine words are one thing but for a key document like this to be thin on solid commitments cannot bode well for the interests of the public, our natural heritage or Scotland’s international reputation."

crested-tit-400x600

On 22 June BSCG discovered that a New National Park Plan with a a forward by Minister for the Environment and Climate change has been posted on the CNPA website.

The Badenoch & Strathspey Conservation Group has commented on this:-

"Responsible planning in National Parks should be one of the foremost methods by which landscapes, habitats and species are protected. The quality of Scotland’s natural environment is fundamental to people’s livelihoods and quality of life. 
We are concerned that aspects of the consultation process were flawed, ignoring some serious concerns about safeguarding the natural and cultural heritage and giving insufficient attention to national interests. It is wrong if many of those making the effort to respond to the consultation end up concluding that the process was a ‘stitch up’ from the start, with short term thinking taking undue precedence. We do not see the minister’s expressions of approval for the consultation process as reflecting the experience of our community group. 

We are concerned that this document is devoid of serious targets properly reflecting the statutory aims of the park and that this deficiency will open the way to further damaging development. 

We and others have queried why the National Park Authority has launched into producing a new National Park Plan before the first plan had run its course or the out of date 2002 Cairngorms Biodiversity Action Plan has been updated. Certainly the second park plan with its shortened horizons appears depressingly devoid of tangible long term targets. Pretty pictures and fine words are one thing but for a key document like this to be thin on solid commitments cannot bode well for the interests of the public, our natural heritage or Scotland’s international reputation."

The following letter  draws attention to a  clear breach of trust by the CNPA
it was published in the Strathy on 24 May 2012

The following letter  draws attention to a  clear breach of trust by the CNPA. It was published in the Strathy on 24 May 2012.

Pointless-consultation-letter-Strathy-24052012-400

CNPA Consultation document:

cover-Consultation-IMG_1025-400 p53IMG_1023-800

Letter published in the Badenoch and Strathspey Herald 10 May 2012:

Sir,
Recently the Cairngorms National Park Authority were unanimously minded to approve a major development for a large retail outlet in Aviemore for which there is no reference in their local plan or any detailed associated 'Appropriate Assessment' or strategic assessment of environmental impacts, despite its proximity to a European Conservation Site. The proposal the CNPA supported conflicts with their own Policy 5 on Biodiversity and with the founding National Park legislation that gives legal primacy to the 1st aim of the Park where there is conflict with other aims. Further, the planning conditions do not follow best practice and, in terms of Scottish law, the CNPA have apparently breached their legal Biodiversity Duty.

Despite all this, and not to mention significant unaddressed concerns raised by Architecture + Design Scotland, senior CNPA board member, David Green, is quick to confidently conclude that the CNPA has achieved a "sustainable outcome as befits a National Park" (Strathy 'Park Talk' May 2).

northern-damselfly

Northern damselfly - Coenagrion hastulatum coenagrionidae

One of the environmental impacts of the Tesco superstore is the complete destruction of the former Santa Claus land lochan that for over a century has been known as a breeding site for one of our rarest damselfies, the Northern damselfly. This beautiful insect is restricted in the UK to only some 35 sites since it appears to require very specific conditions. It has its stronghold in the Cairngorms and is classed as 'endangered' in the UK because it faces a 'very high risk of extinction in the near future'. Unsurprisingly, it is one of the species that Scottish Ministers have listed as of principal importance for conservation in Scotland and, being on the Scottish Biodiversity List, is a treasure for which the CNPA has national legal responsibilities. In addition, this pool has been assessed as of the highest conservation value and supports a wealth of other wildlife, including rarities.

The CNPA have proposed translocating the damselfly and other wildlife to a different site. Rightly, the CNPA themselves recognise that such a move would be experimental and there is no guarantee of success. Such an operation has not been tried before, little is known about the northern damselfly, it has characteristically low populations at its breeding sites and the CNPA do not know whether an appropriate pond and surrounding habitat exists or could be created. If the CNPA seriously want a successful outcome they should have ensured best practice is carefully applied. But rather than maximise the chances of success, the CNPA's planning conditions fail to ensure best practice and do not follow national policy on translocations. This policy requires that the new population is monitored over several generations - that is several years - in order to assess the outcome of the translocation. It seems to BSCG particularly irresponsible that the CNPA have apparently not stipulated that the original lochan must be safeguarded until the translocation is known to have been successful.

Like the lochan, the Milton or Aviemore Burn that runs beside the Tesco site also has an unusually high conservation value. Tesco's own ecologists have reported that this burn supports the Northern February red stonefly. This rarity now occurs nowhere in the world other than certain parts of Scotland. We have an exceptional responsibility for this fascinating species, yeits existence and its vulnerable status.

It is time that the CNPA started to appreciate that poor planning is particularly unacceptable in a National Park. The 'air brushing out' of conflicts with the natural heritage and the failure seriously to address specific environmental concerns is a sure road to environmental deterioration.

Gus Jones
(Covener Badenoch and Strathspery Conservation Group)

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.

Subcategories