Continuing legal challenge to inappropriate developments in the Cairngorms National Park.
The treasured landscapes and wildlife of the Cairngorms need your help. Developers are planning a whole new town and several  large housing estates in sensitive areas in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park. BSCG has joined with the Cairngorms Campaign and the Scottish Campaign for National Parks to challenge this. We are appealing an important point of law in the September 21st  2012 Opinion  of Judge Lord Glennie that related to these potentially damaging proposals.
 
We and our QC respectfully believe that Lord Glennie misinterpreted the terms of the European Habitats Directive relating to the 'appropriate assessments' of Natura 2000 sites.
If we win this appeal, which is being heard on March 12th 2013,  it will be a significant judgement that should force the Cairngorms National Park Authority to revise its whole approach to safeguarding European sites. More widely it should help to ensure a stronger application of the Habitats Directive that would be more in line with a precautionary approach to planning development.
 
This challenge comes in the year of ‘Natural Scotland’. It also comes soon after the National Geographic magazine listed the Cairngorms as the only British entry in the Top 50 of the World’s Last Great Places, along with such locations as Madagascar and the  Gobi desert.
Legal action is serious and expensive: we need to urgently raise £30,000 to cover the cost of the court hearing.
 
All donations are most gratefully received and can be made by clicking the 'Donate' button to the right. For more information please visit safeguardthecairngoms.org.uk

 

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An Camas Mòr - Site Of Proposed 1500 House New Town Development

 

The treasured landscapes and wildlife of the Cairngorms need your help. Developers are planning a whole new town and several  large housing estates in sensitive areas in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park. BSCG has joined with the Cairngorms Campaign and the Scottish Campaign for National Parks to challenge this. We are appealing an important point of law in the September 21st  2012 Opinion  of Judge Lord Glennie that related to these potentially damaging proposals.

We and our QC respectfully believe that Lord Glennie misinterpreted the terms of the European Habitats Directive relating to the 'appropriate assessments' of Natura 2000 sites.If we win this appeal, which is being heard on March 12th 2013,  it will be a significant judgement that should force the Cairngorms National Park Authority to revise its whole approach to safeguarding European sites. More widely it should help to ensure a stronger application of the Habitats Directive that would be more in line with a precautionary approach to planning development. 

This challenge comes in the year of ‘Natural Scotland’. It also comes soon after the National Geographic magazine listed the Cairngorms as the only British entry in the Top 50 of the World’s Last Great Places, along with such locations as Madagascar and the  Gobi desert.Legal action is serious and expensive: we need to urgently raise £30,000 to cover the cost of the court hearing.

All donations are most gratefully received and can be made by clicking the 'Donate' button to the right. For more information please visit www.safeguardthecairngorms.org.uk

 

The case will be heard in the Court of Session in Edinburgh on Tuesday 12th and Wednesday 13th March 2013 starting at 10am each day. If you wish to attend simply go to the Court of Session on Parliament Square, Edinburgh (map), ask for the Cairngorms National Park case and the staff will tell you where to find the public gallery. We would welcome your presence in court.

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Three cheers for those MSPs who have agreed to champion one of the Highland species affected by human impacts such as development, habitat loss, climate change and pollution.

Over twenty parliamentarians have signed up to the scheme. Champions for Highland wildife include Dave Stewart (Greater yellow bumblebee), Rhoda Grant (Golden eagle and wildcat), Mary Scanlon (Freshwater pearl mussel), Jamie McGrigor (narrow-headed ant), Rob Gibson (rusty bog moss), and Dave Thompson (sandeel). Mr Stewart recently tabled a parliamentary motion encouraging more MSPs to become wildllife champions, while Mr McGrigor has officially asked the government what it is doing to protect the narrow headed ant.

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But other species are in danger of being left on the shelf. They include -otters; adders; juniper; the one-flowered wintergreen; the dark bordered beauty; the pine hoverfly; the aspen hoverfly; the northern damselfly; the kentish glory, a moth extinct in England but found in the Highlands.

One species yet to find a champion is the Violet oil beetle (Meloe violaceus), a cuckoo of the insect world. The beetle's larvae find flowers likely to be visited by a solitary bee. When an unsuspecting bee appears, the larva hitches a ride to the bee's underground nest .Here it devours food the bee has gathered for its own young and eats the bee's own eggs. Oil beetles also produce a bitter 'oil' from their leg joints that wards off enemies. Intriguingly, this oil attracts midges that feed on the 'oil' without harming the beetle. Some oil beetle species are extinct in Britain.

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Many species with no parliamentary champions are associated with the Cairngorms. We hope that before Valentines day is over more of the unclaimed species will have found partners.

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CNPA wants over 20 percent rise in Park population

The Cairngorms National Park Authority’s housing policy in Badenoch and Strathspey assumes a 20 percent increase in population over the next 20 years, accepting the Highland Council’s highest growth predictions (Cairngorms National Park Authority, 2011). Not content with this, however, the Authority wishes to push for increased economic growth and increased migration into the area (Miles, 2012) (Cairngorms National Park Authority, 2011).  It does not accept that this will have a detrimental effect on the Park’s “special qualities” (Cairngorms National Park Authority, 2011).


Increase in holiday homes marker of CNPA success?

Duncan Bryden, the new Chairman of the CNPA, evidently regards the cherry picking of local homes as holiday homes as an indicator of the Park’s success.  In an article in The Geographer (Spring 2012) heralding the CNPA’s successes, Duncan Bryden writes: “Every year, over 1 .3 million visitors enjoy outdoor pursuits [in the Park], with affluent walkers and skiers snapping up surplus rural properties for holiday homes…” (Bryden, 2012)


CNPA draft national park plan consultation – response rate plummets

The CNPA has repeatedly extolled the success of its consultation process, and used this to justify its more controversial decisions (Strathspey and Badenoch Herald, 11 January 2012).  Despite this the inhabitants of the Park are increasingly unconvinced that it is worth taking part.  From 2006 to 2011 the number of individual responses to the Draft National Park Plan consultations halved (2006 - 61 : 2011 - 33); the number of people attending public consultation meetings dropped by almost 200 people (from 588 in 2006 to ‘nearly’ 400 in 2011) and even the number of public bodies consulted dropped from 21 to 13 (Cairngorms National Park Authority, 2007) (Miles, 2012).  Not surprising given that the views of those who do make the considerable efforts needed to take part in CNPA consultations are so often ignored or dismissed as ill-informed or naive.


Scottish park board members – we voted for you but we can’t contact you

Despite the fact that the CNPA is proud of the fact that it numbers directly elected members amongst its board it makes it extremely difficult for those who elected these board members to contact them to make their opinions known.  Out of the 15 British national parks, only the two Scottish national parks refuse to publish contact details for board members on their websites.  While the English national parks give postal address, telephone numbers and e-mail, the Scottish parks do not even offer an e-mail address!


References

Bryden, D., 2012. The Cairngorms National Park- A Park for All. The Geographer: The newsletter of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society, Issue Spring 2012, p. 14.

Cairngorms National Park Authority, 2007. Consultation Report on the Cairngorms National Park Plan, Grantown-on-Spey: Cairngorms National Park Authority.

Cairngorms National Park Authority, 2011. Cairngorms National Park Local Development Plan Main Issues Report Background Evidence 1: Housing and Population, Grantown-on-Spey: Cairngorms National Park Authority.

Cairngorms National Park Authority, 2011. Minutes of Board Meeting, 16 March 2011, Grantown-on-Spey: Cairngorms National Park Authority.
Miles, G., 2012. National Park Plan Review Consultation Report, Grantown-on-Spey: Cairngorms National park Authority.

Strathspey and Badenoch Herald, 11 January 2012. Bosses accused of 'paving over' national park, Inverness: Scottish Provincial Press Ltd

Dear Sir,

I feel compelled to write to you about further potential development plans for the area of land in Grantown known as the Mossie.

Grantown residents will recall that the Mossie is a floodplain and a hot spot for a wealth of rare and interesting wildlife. The burns that run through it provide a foraging route for Otter.

Many residents and a local conservation group believe that the Mossie should be preserved as a nature reserve.

The furore surrounding the recent Muir Homes attempt to develop a large part of the Mossie with over 200 homes should still be fresh in the minds of the residents of Grantown.

With that in mind, you would think that the same application would still be reasonably fresh in the mind of Cairngorm National Park Planners, especially since they took a great deal of flack from local residents, conservationists and ultimately Scottish Government Reporters in connection with that matter.

SEPA sustained an objection to the development throughout that application on the basis that built development cannot take place on a functional flood plain. New development itself would not only be at risk, but it would add to the risk of flooding elsewhere.

As a direct consequence of Muir Homes’ failed application, National Park Planners zoned a large area of land to the south-west of Seafield Avenue for future housing development. This now forms part of the National Park adopted Local Plan.

It is worth pointing out that not one brick had been laid in this large virgin newly zoned area.

It may then come as some surprise that National Park Planners are quietly seeking opinion about zoning an area of land on the Mossie for future housing development. Park Planners are describing this as a ‘future opportunity’ and describing this process as an ‘informal consultation’.

The area of land in question is directly to the west of Mossie Road with the only conceivable access via the small cul-de-sac off Mossie Road.

Park Planners have officially sought the opinion of the Grantown and vicinity Community Council whose members did not feel that the Mossie should be developed for housing.

There was no such engagement for the residents of Grantown whose only hope of uncovering the information regarding this ‘informal consultation’ would have been to trawl through the Park’s website. It would seem that Park Planners have not felt the need to connect directly with the local communities which they serve.

Residents could be forgiven for thinking that there is sufficient land already zoned for future housing development in Grantown. It may be that some of your readership supports this ‘opportunity’, or perhaps your readers would prefer to see the Mossie safeguarded as a Nature Reserve. Whatever their opinion, they have a right to express it and should inform Park Planners before Friday 28th September 2012.

Comments can be emailed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or sent to Albert Memorial Hall, Station Square, Ballater, AB35 5QB.

More information, including maps, can be found on The National Park’s website: www.cairngorms.co.uk/park-authority/planning/local-plan/local-development-plan/

Name & address supplied.

Published in The Badenoch and Strathspey Herrald, 20 September 2012.

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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.

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Wood ant nest near  proposed caravan site at Granish.

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Hairy wood ants on threatened sites in Strathspey.

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