LINK Parliamentary Briefing for the Local Government and Regeneration Committee on Planning controls for Hill Tracks
Poorly constructed vehicle tracks (“hilltracks”) have been a concern to environmental and recreation groups for decades due to the damage they can cause to the landscape and sensitive habitats. Some examples can be seen in our photo gallery. At present tracks which are for agricultural and forestry purposes do not require a full planning application. Instead, they benefit from what are known as “Permitted Development Rights” (PDRs). LINK members have campaigned for many years for tracks like these to be brought fully into the planning system.
In 2014 the law was changed to require landowners to give what is known as “Prior Notification” to planning authorities that they intend to build or modify a track. We published a report “Changing Tracks” in September 2018 which considered how effective these changes have been in stopping the building of damaging tracks. You can read the report and its recommendation that PDRs be removed from agricultural tracks here.
Recent news – July 2019
With a new Planning (Scotland) Bill recently under discussion we have worked hard to make the case for further tightening of the law. As a result of our campaign, more than 800 people have recently written to their MSPs to voice their concerns. The Scottish Green Party has also campaigned for change. Andy Wightman MSP put forward changes to the Bill, gaining the support of nearly 2000 members of the public. Disappointingly, in June 2019, MSPs voted against including new hilltrack legislation in the Planning Bill. Read a response from Helen Todd, Co-convenor of the LINK Hilltracks subgroup, on the UKHillwalking website here
Where next for the campaign?
Planning Minister Kevin Stewart has promised to consider hilltracks again during a major review of “Permitted Development Rights”; this is expected to start in 2020. We will hold the Scottish Government to this pledge. Further information about this next stage will be published here as more information becomes available.
To get in touch, please send us an email – hilltracks email
You can read more about the work the campaign has taken on the tabs below
The Campaign is grateful for the support of the following organisations:-
- British Mountaineering Council
- Scottish Mountaineering Trust
- Scottish Environment LINK Discretionary Project Fund
- Campaign Group members
- Mountaineering Scotland, who are not a LINK member