Hik­ers asked to re­port ve­hi­cle tracks on hills

The Oban Times - - Outdoors -

CON­SER­VA­TION bodies are call­ing for out­door en­thu­si­asts to help them as­sess the dam­age caused to Scot­land’s moun­tains by ve­hi­cle tracks.

The Scot­tish En­vi­ron­ment LINK Hill­tracks group wants hill­walk­ers to pho­to­graph or video any in­stances of up­land tracks that are harm­ing the land­scape or en­vi­ron­ment.

This ev­i­dence will help the group, which in­cludes many of Scot­land’s big­gest out­door and con­ser­va­tion or­gan­i­sa­tions, com­pile a new re­port in spring 2018 into whether cur­rent leg­is­la­tion is work­ing.

Mel Ni­coll, who has re­cently been ap­pointed to help with the LINK Hill­tracks cam­paign, said: ‘Peo­ple are of­ten shocked to learn that landown­ers gen­er­ally can’t be re­fused per­mis­sion be­fore they bull­doze new tracks in Scot­land’s hills as long as they are claimed to be for agri­cul­ture or forestry, in­clud­ing in some of our wildest, most un­touched land­scapes and na­tional parks.

‘Since 2014, landown­ers have had to no­tify coun­cils be­fore con­struct­ing or up­grad­ing th­ese tracks, but they still don’t need to ap­ply for plan­ning per­mis­sion in most cases.

‘We want hill-go­ers to send us pho­tos and videos, with the map ref­er­ence if pos­si­ble, so we can bet­ter gauge the level of dam­age and as­sess whether the 2014 law change has helped im­prove stan­dards.

‘We’ll pub­lish the re­sults in a re­port next spring.’

LINK is urg­ing any­one who comes across what they think might be a new or ex­panded track to email hill­tracks@scotlink.org or tweet us­ing hash­tags #Hill­tracks or #NoMo­torsUpMoun­tains.

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