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Plans to upgrade paths

THE SCOTTISH government could link future construction and upgrading of farm and forestry roads more closely to best practice guidelines.

The proposal by Derek Mackay MSP, minister for local government and planning, would follow the Scottish Natural Heritage guidance "Constructed Tracks in the Uplands."

Scottish Land and Estates have welcomed the proposal, policy officer Anne Gray said: "Our members expressed concern in the consultation about the original proposal to remove permitted development rights for all private roading work, not least because of the pressure it would put on overstretched planning authorities. It could have had serious implications for farm and forestry management across Scotland and the Minister's solution will be practical and effective.

"We recognise the visual impact of any new road, especially in prominent upland sites, and sympathise with the John Muir Trust, the Mountaineering Council of Scotland and other groups who have expressed concern. We do believe however that a well constructed and landscaped road should be given a few years time to blend back into the landscape before a judgement is made on its long term visual impact. The SNH best practice guidance, which has been developed with industry cooperation, is comprehensive and practical (both for estate managers and roading contractors) and it is being updated as new techniques develop.

"We are sure that promoting best practice is the best way to ensure that all new roads – whether they require planning permission or not – are built as sensitively as possible. Where upgrading and maintenance are performed on existing roads, adherence to best practice principles will be important. Scottish Land & Estates will be making a major effort in 2013 to ensure that the updated guidance is publicised as widely as possible."

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