- Written by Gus Jones
- Category: Campaigns
- Published: 11 October 2018
Questions are being asked about how Cairngorms National Park Planners have recently recommended approval for a costly proposal for artificial ski slopes on the hill. It is shocking (but convenient for the developer) that the public screening opinion claims this project would not have any “significant effects on the environment”. Envisaged in the high altitude development over a footprint of 2.1 ha is the stripping of thousands of cubic metres of peat. No mitigation is possible for the habitats to be destroyed. These support valued wildlife including mountain hare, mountain bumblebee, plants like interrupted clubmoss, heathland with natural bearberry, juniper and lichens that with the natural landform has developed since the end of the last Ice Age. The compensation proposed (of some tree and shrub planting) is arguably what should already be happening on responsibly managed land in public ownership in such a special area in the heart of a National Park.
Apparently requiring £1.5M of public money, this climate-unfriendly project is plainly highly unsustainable in financial, social and environmental terms . If in the teeth of considerable community opposition this project is consented it has enduring reputational implications and would illustrate subservience to a speculative unreasonably optimistic and disastrously ill-informed vision.
If the CNPA Board approve this project it opens the way to a new wave of major environmental and landscape damage on the hill.
Today ( 11 Oct 2018) the Strathspey & Badenoch Herald reported the planners recommendation for approval of the controversial project "is despite growing protests that it will damage the environment and become a white elephant".
Strathspey & Badenoch Herald ( October 11 2018, extract from page 4 )
- Written by Roy Turnbull
- Category: Debates
- Published: 24 December 2017
17/04601/FUL - Development of 18 hole golf course, erection of clubhouse etc.
Land 1700M NW of Embo Community Centre School Street, Embo.
I write to add my strong objection to the above proposed development.
I have studied the detailed objections you have already received from numerous informed and knowledgeable sources concerning the damaging impacts this proposed development would have upon the exceptional and valued flora and fauna and landscape of this important designated site. Whilst there is little point in my repeating all this information, which I trust you will study and absorb, I would like to draw your particular attention to just two issues:
1. From the Scottish Wildlife Trust objection, dated 27th October 2017:
“assessing the impact of the development is not simply a case of totalling up the areas of the various habitats which the footprint of the development will cover. The creation of a golf course, and aspects of its management such as drainage, irrigation, seeding, cutting, fertilising, application of pesticides, water abstraction from boreholes and resultant impacts such as changes to grazing, and disturbance, will fundamentally affect the operation of these natural processes which have created the sand dune features which are a notified feature of the Ramsar site.
The development will freeze this dynamism over time and steadily impoverish the biodiversity to make it a very ordinary place, like most of Scotland’s links golf courses (lawns and scrub). Construction and management will fundamentally affect these processes of seasonal and longer term changes”
This, it seems to me, gets to the crux of the matter. It is simply not possible to make large scale alterations to the functioning of a complex, dynamic, living system of sand, water, plants, animals and fungi without fundamentally degrading and unravelling the whole system. A similar warning was sounded during consultations over the Menie golf course development near Aberdeen, and the recent announcement by Scottish Natural Heritage that de-designation of the SSSI there is under consideration because of the damage to its special features following development emphasises the validity of such warnings. I submit that the developers should heed the advice contained in both the SNH and SEPA objections: to consider an alternative site on agricultural land.
2. Please assess this proposal beyond just the confines of local concerns. There is widespread and increasing global concern about the continuing incremental loss of biodiversity and of natural and semi-natural habitats. For example, a very recent global study by the University of Queensland, Australia
“Despite their importance, wilderness areas are being destroyed at an alarming rate and need urgent protection with almost 10 per cent being lost since the early 1990s. Their conservation is a global priority.”
Approving this application would damage Scotland's reputation for looking after its own natural and semi-natural areas, and weaken its voice on the global stage at a time when stopping the loss of such areas is an urgent necessity. As one of the wealthier and better educated countries on Earth, Scotland should be leading by example.
- Written by Tessa Jones
- Category: Meetings
- Published: 01 November 2017
BSCG's next public talk is on 21st November at 7.30pm in the Badenoch Centre (Youth room) Spey Street, Kingussie. It is an illustrated talk on . Craig is Conservation Director of Buglife, the charity that stands up for the small creatures that run the planet. Last year he received the RSPB Species Champion for Scotland award in recognition of a decade of work in which he has developed Buglife Scotland into an established conservation organisation. Buglife is currently involved with the Cairngorms rare invertebrates project.
In 2017 Craig undertook a survey of parts of the Spey catchment for stoneflies. He co-authored an authoritative pictorial guide to British mayflies published in 2010. With increasing pressures on our rivers and burns from such things as climate change, invasive species, water abstraction and pollution, not to mention growing concern for conserving vulnerable wildlife like pearl mussels and otters, this talk will provide a fascinating insight into the life of our burns.
Facebook event listing: https://www.facebook.com/events/340012106470336/
- Written by Gus Jones
- Category: Campaigns
- Published: 17 September 2017
Sunday Herald,17 September 2017:
FAR more people oppose building a new town in the Cairngorms National Park than are in favour, according to a new opinion poll.
More than 44 per cent of those questioned said they opposed a plan for 1,500 new houses at An Camas Mòr, near Aviemore. Just under 25 per cent said they supported the idea, and the same proportion said they neither opposed or supported the plan.
The development was granted planning permission in principle by the Cairngorms National Park Authority last month, despite prolonged and fierce opposition from conservation groups. The scheme was initially approved in 2014, but lost a major financial backer.
The Badenoch and Strathspey Conservation Group (BSCG), which opposed An Camas Mòr, commissioned pollsters Survation to assess views on the development. More than 1,000 people across Scotland were interviewed between September 8-12 .
BSCG’s convener, Dr Gus Jones, said he was encouraged by the poll results. “There is considerable opposition to this large-scale development in a national park,” he told the Sunday Herald.
“An Camas Mòr is a controversial and damaging development in a highly prized and sensitive area, and requires large-scale public funding. We hope the results of this poll will encourage the Scottish Government to think again.”
The Cairngorms Campaign argued that supporting the new town went against the will of the Scottish people. The park authority had issued approval “without due regard for the natural and cultural heritage of the area, which should be their first aim,” said the campaign’s Helen Geddes.
Cairngorm park authority’s chief executive, Grant Moir, pointed out that developers still had to conclude a legal agreement. “The applicant has to comply with a suite of conditions and supply a significant amount of detail to the authority’s planning committee on these conditions before any work can begin on An Camas Mòr,” he said.
There are plans to build a new town in an area of the Cairngorms National Park. The area in question is a National Scenic Area and close to designated conservation sites. The new town is proposed to consist of around 1500 houses and would be about the size of the largest existing settlement in the Cairngorms National Park. There are plans to build a new town in an area of the Cairngorms National Park. The area in question is a National Scenic Area and close to designated conservation sites. The new town is proposed to consist of around 1500 houses and would be about the size of the largest existing settlement in the Cairngorms National Park. Supporters of the proposed new town say that the planned community on the site would be ‘appropriate for its outstanding location and delivers much needed new homes and commercial space locally.’ Opponents say that the plans would be over-development that would damage the special landscape and wildlife that the National Park was set up to protect.To what extent do you support or oppose the building of this new town in the Cairngorms National Park?
Strongly support / Somewhat support / Neither support nor oppose / Somewhat oppose / Strongly oppose / Don't know.
- Written by Gus Jones
- Category: Insects
- Published: 30 May 2017
This week is Small Blue Butterfly Week across Scotland, with voluntary action by enthusiasts in Aberdeenshire, Moray, Irvine, Caithness and the borders. About a third of the world’s butterfly species belong to the blue family, that includes the hairstreaks, the Northern Brown Argus and coppers - other small butterflies with striking metallic colours. Many of these frail gems have an intimate relationship with ants. The large blue butterfly became extinct in Britain in 1979 but thanks to a major effort involving taking stock of its dependence on ants, was re-introduced and currently survives precariously in England. To date attempts to reintroduce the large copper, for which the last British record was in 1864, have failed.
A sign in Nairn mentions that the small blue is a size that would fit on a penny.
By contrast with the restricted range of some of the 20 or so blues in Britain, the Small Blue has a distribution that spans from the Caithness coast to the south west of Ireland. Despite this it has been described as "rare in almost every region it inhabits". This is so in the Cairngorms National Park. Here inStrathspey, unlike other parts of Scotland, we can boast having an inland, rather than coastal, population of Small Blue. Vital to the survival of the Small Blue is the foodplant Kidney Vetch, on which the caterpillars entirely depend. This plant with attractive yellow flowers seems to be a favourite for other insects, like bumblebees.
A bumblebee visits kidney vetch at a flower rich site supporting small blue in Strathspey.
During Small Blue Butterfly Week hopes are high that members of the public will spot and report sightings of Small Blue. Good places to look are where the vital food plant kidney vetch is growing in sheltered sunny spots. The 2002 Cairngorms Local Biodiversity Action Plan identifies calcareous, neutral and acid grassland as habitat for the small blue, but unfortunately delivering better conservation in the face of damaging land use change for these grasslands remains somewhat fraught with challenges.
The upper wings of a female small blue here on a flower of bird's foot trefoil in Strathspey are dark in colour.
Those wishing to see Small Blue this week but not having luck in Strathspey could consider a trip to some of the undeveloped dune slacks along the Morayshire coast, in places like Nairn that boasts around 20 butterfly species. If Morayshire is too far, the Landmark Centre at Carrbridge has a butterfly house with many colourful South American butterflies to admire. However, as the blue family is tricky to propagate in captivity it is not one of the butterfly families on show in this new butterfly house.
A male small blue in Strathspey has wings that show some blue scales.