Conservationists have launched a new campaign calling for statutory protection for wilderness areas in Scotland.
The John Muir Trust’s Keep It Wild campaign calls on the Scottish Government to use the forthcoming Planning Bill to keep Wild Land Areas free from industrial-scale development, similar to the protection already in place in national parks and national scenic areas.
Scottish Natural Heritage revealed its map of Wild Land Areas in 2014 and said the areas of “high wildness” are nationally important in Scottish planning policy but are not protected by law.
A new poll reveals more than half of Scots surveyed back the designated areas being given further safeguards from large developments.
The trust commissioned the YouGov poll which found 52% strongly agree the areas “should continue to be protected from large-scale infrastructure, such as industrial-scale wind farms, major electricity transmission and super-quarries”, while 28% tend to agree.
A further 5% tend to disagree but 0% strongly disagree, 12% remain neutral and 3% are undecided in the survey of 1,028 Scottish adults carried out between May 18 and 22.
The trust’s campaign comes as the first wind farm to be given permission to build on a Wild Land Area, 22-turbine Creag Riabhach at Altnaharra, Sutherland, is being challenged in the Court of Session in Edinburgh.
Helen McDade, head of policy for the John Muir Trust, said: “Scotland is united in wishing to keep our wild landscapes free from large-scale wind farms, giant pylons, super quarries and other inappropriate commercial developments.”
She said the Planning Bill is an opportunity to provide the protection that is “currently missing”.
Ms McDade added: “That’s why we’re launching the Keep It Wild campaign, to persuade the Scottish Government that protection for Wild Land Areas must be enshrined in legislation before they are lost for good.
“Wild land is a key part of Scotland’s natural heritage and national identity. It is also a major driver of the Scottish economy, attracting tourists from all over the world to visit, spend money and support jobs in some our most fragile local communities.”
The campaign urges people to show their support for Scotland’s Wild Land Areas to be given statutory protection by writing to politicians and backing the drive on social media.