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National Trust warns that planning system is failing to protect Scotland’s heritage

Words: Roger Milne
Culloden / Shutterstock_323313296

The National Trust for Scotland has claimed that the planning system is riding roughshod over the country’s natural and historic heritage – citing developments proposed for Culloden and approval for the Coul Links golf project at Embo in Sutherland as examples.

The conservation charity said the plans could be disastrous for both locations. Culloden is the site of one of the most significant battles in Scotland’s history and is a designated a conservation area, while Coul Links falls within the Loch Fleet Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and is home to rare coastal habitats.

The organisation’s chief executive Simon Skinner has written to the country’s newspapers saying: “It is with no pleasure whatsoever that I report that the National Trust for Scotland’s fears for the protection of our heritage are coming to pass.”

He added: "We are at crossroads. Do we want to protect our outstanding historical places and natural heritage or not? Do designations to protect heritage such as Conservation Areas and SSSIs still have any meaning?

"Developers will always argue that pristine sites are more attractive because they are cheaper to build on and offer attractive locations for living and leisure; they will always play the trump card of claiming that jobs and economics outweigh the loss of history and habitats.

“We would do well to remember that the economic benefit to Scotland from tourism directly attributable to our outstanding places of beauty is far larger than the entire agriculture and fisheries sectors combined. Others seem to value our heritage even if we don’t always appear to.”

The trust is arguing forcibly that the government’s planning bill, currently under consideration in the Scottish Parliament, should be amended to provide stronger protection for the country’s historic and natural heritage.

Meanwhile, Scottish ministers have given themselves extra time to decide whether to call in the Coul Links golf course scheme.

Image credit | Shutterstock