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The Badenoch and Strathspey Conservation Group (BSCG) has released a report by the James Hutton Institute, released under a freedom of information act request, that suggests there has been a 50% decline in Freshwater pearl mussels in the River Spey over the last 15 years.

The report says scientists had identified pollutants, such as high levels of phosphorus from detergents, fertilisers and human waste, as being the cause of the harm, with the worse affected area being in the vicinity of Aviemore.

BSCG are concerned that the proposed building of thousands more homes in the Cairngorms will put the rare species at greater risk.

Dr Gus Jones Convener of the Badenoch and Strathspey Conservation Group (BSCG) said: "It looks alarmingly as if the Spey’s pearl mussels are in free fall. If pearl mussels are to have a future in the Spey it is vital that current pollution standards are improved immediately. We hope this timely report will be a wake up call that radical action is urgently needed if Scotland is to save the Spey’s pearl mussels. The report reveals that pollution levels are already exceeding safe limits and yet thousands more houses are planned in Strathspey, further impacting on water quality."

Roy Turnbull (Vice convener) of Badenoch and Strathspey Conservation Group added: "The pearl mussel decline follows the building of about three thousand houses in Strathspey in the last thirty years. Yet the national park plans to allow thousands more houses, which would increase the pollution of the Spey."

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Letter in Strathy 22 May 2014.

Dear Sir,

Interesting differences have emerged between the Cairngorms National Park Authority and Highland Council over the application to build 58 houses in School Wood, Nethy Bridge.

The CNPA, in its Landscape Report, dismisses the development site as “pine plantation woodland”, whereas the HC Forestry Report correctly states, “ the site is contained within woodland which is listed in the Ancient Woodland Inventory as Long Established semi-natural origin” and continues, “This is sadly not a development which would co-exist with woodland, this is a development at the expense of woodland”.

With the lack of any self-build plots and the cramped nature of the housing proposed it is hardly surprising that Nethy Bridge Community Council reports, "There is now a greater antipathy in the village towards the development as it currently stands."

Representations can be made until 29th May to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. See: http://www.eplanningcnpa.co.uk/online-applications/ with 2013/0119/DET in the search box.

Roy Turnbull, Torniscar, Nethy Bridge.

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Sir – Your correspondent Ian Miller, (Letters, 27 February), repeats some of the many misleading or false statements put about by those determined to deny the overwhelming scientific evidence for human-induced global warming.

He starts by asserting that “the Antarctic is cooling”. That is not correct. The Antarctic Peninsular is warming rapidly (nearly 3C so far); Western Antarctica is warming at about 0.1C/decade (Steig et al, Nature, 2009) and the vast East Antarctic has experienced slight cooling in places and warming elsewhere. The overall trend is one of slight warming.

Mr Miller continues by misnaming the Intergovernmental (not International) Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and wrongly attributes to it responsibility both for global temperature records and “computer models”, when the IPCC has no research function and merely collates and reports the findings of others.

Mr Miller also belittles the (correct) average global temperature increase thus far (0.8C).

But projections from the IPCC warn that such temperatures could rise almost a further 5C by the end of this century if we continue with the unrestricted burning of fossil fuels.

For comparison, average global temperatures during the depth of the last glaciation, when Strathspey was buried in several thousand feet of ice, were just 5C cooler than at present. A rise of 5C would be catastrophic.

Mr Miller is also misinformed in claiming that “World temperatures have not risen in line with ... computer models and have remained broadly flat”.

Firstly, there is no statistically significant evidence that the long-term trend of rising global temperatures experienced since the mid-1970s has changed. Secondly, unpredictable factors like solar variations, volcanic eruptions and El Nino/ La Nina episodes are well able to explain short term variations in surface temperatures. Thirdly, over 90 per cent of the extra heat caused by the increase in greenhouse gases is absorbed in the oceans, which exhibit continued warming.

Mr Miller is also confused about the terms “global warming” and “climate change”. The former refers to the increase in heat in the atmosphere/ land surface/oceans, whereas the latter refers to the corresponding change in climate.

If Mr Miller thinks the term climate change is new, he might ponder the meaning of CC in the IPCC, founded in 1988.

Mr Miller is also incorrect to claim that human actions cannot affect the jet stream, alterations in which are thought to be responsible for the UK’s recent extreme weather events.

The jet stream results from the temperature gradient between the Arctic and the tropics. Human caused warming of the Arctic has reduced this gradient and the unusual behaviour of the jet stream is thought to be the result.

Human-induced global warming is real, is continuing and is potentially very dangerous. No amount of confused denial can alter those facts.

Roy Turnbull, Torniscar, Nethy Bridge.

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View looking South across the site proposed for a Go Kart development showing in the background the current Northern edge of the Aviemore settlement boundary that this development could help undermine.

Sir, Colin Bain (Strathy letters, January 16) has questioned whether a go-kart development at Granish could pave the way to unleashing further northward expansion of Aviemore beyond the present settlement boundary.

He cites land uses such as the nearby batching plant as deterrents. However, the farmland location is in attractive countryside, enjoys outstanding views, and is situated further from round-the-clock noise of the A9 than such upmarket developments as High Burnside where houses are being marketed at up to nearly half-a-million pounds.

When it comes to the decisions over the potential for future housing and landscaping in the Granish area, it seems likely to be the interests of other powerful players, not the views of Mr Bain, which will count.

The planning application document for the gokart proposal does not include Mr Bain’s name.

Rather, it shows that the landowner is Reidhaven Estate; the applicant is the Granish Farm Partnership represented by well-known developer Allan Munro; and the application form is signed by David Keith of Bracewell Stirling Consulting.

The same parties are involved in the nearby caravan site proposal at Granish, where the Cairngorms National Park Authority have approved reception, farm shop and manager’s accommodation, and 33 caravan pitches, etcetera.

All of these parties are involved in housing developments locally and they may well continue to press for further developments in sensitive countryside in the future.

Already Reidhaven Estate is pushing the Cairngorms National Park Authority to include new housing in Grantown on the Mossie in the new Local Development Plan, on an area where the town’s community council has expressed the desire to have a local nature reserve.

Yours etc, Gus Jones, Convener, Fiodhag, Nethy Bridge, PH25 3DJ

 

If you wish to support the A9GB campaign, these are some of the things you can do to help, most will only take a moment:

  • Follow us on our Facebook page www.facebook.com/A9GreenBridges 
    Then hover over our Facebook name or our 'Liked' button, then 'settings', and select 'Most updates' or 'All updates'
  • Follow us on twitter: www.twitter.com/A9GreenBridges and use the #A9GB hash tag.
  • Like, share and post. Show your support. Tell your friends.
  • Comment on the consultations on the Transport Scotland A9 Dualling site using their comment form or emailThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Email your MSP who you can find by a MSP post code search.
  • We are looking at setting up a petition. More info to follow soon.
  • If you have any skills to help us. In particular we are looking for a graphic designer for a logo and an infographic.
  • Donate to our campaign via our Badenoch and Strathspey Conservation Group (Scottish Charity SC003846) link at top right of site. We are all volunteers.
  • Most of all, be part of a campaign that can make a difference.

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Better Regulation of Hill Tracks - 10 December 2013

SIR, - An authoritative report, Track Changes, has reinforced calls for better regulation of bulldozed tracks in the countryside.

Following damage to rare wildlife resulting from operations associated with forest tracks in Strathspey, the Badenoch and Strathspey Conservation Group has, with members of the Highland Biological Recording Group, shared concerns with the Cairngorms National Park Authority. It has long been recognised that such irreversible damage to nationally important biodiversity could be avoided more readily by returning to a system that ensures scrutiny through the planning process.

Experience shows that the most damaging effects of track construction proliferating on peat relate to drainage. Too often, even small-scale disturbance can have dramatic and long-term effects on the health of peatlands, as well as contributing to the emission of the carbon stored in the excavated peat.

The eye-opening range of case studies illustrated in Track Changes augments a large and longstanding body of evidence. This shows that the retention of automatic development rights for fanning and forestry and their de facto extension to the field-sports industry has led.to a rapid increase in detrimental impacts.

We salute the nine organisations who cormmissioned the report Track Changes that can be seen at http://www.scotlink.org/hilltracks/ and support the calls of their members. We also welcome the contribution of researchers and the Mountaineering Council of Scotland, which for years has spoken against ill-considered hill tracks.

Gus Jones, convener, Badenoch and Strathspey Conservation Group, Fiodhag, Nethybridge .

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