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