Hill Tracks Campaign

In Association With

Mountaineering Council of Scotland


 supported by


John Muir Trust


Scottish Wild Land Group


North East Mountain Trust


Ramblers Scotland

What are Hilltracks ?  

Why the Concern? 

Current Planning Permission  

What needs to be done?

Petition Question

What are Hilltracks?

Hill tracks are constructed for the purposes of easing vehicular traffic within upland areas of the Scottish countryside.

Why the Concern ?

There is concern about the increasing number of constructed hill tracks, intruding into wild landscape and damaging our natural environment.

Currently, the construction of hill tracks do not require planning permission as long as the tracks are claimed to be constructed for land management purposes such as agriculture and forestry.

There are no restrictions of hill track constructions at different altitudes, no clear definition of maintenance i.e., upgrading / change of use from footpaths, no baseline map against which to assess claimed repair as opposed to construction and no penalties if the regulations are not followed.

Hill tracks are important for essential land management and allow ease of access for farmers.

Farmers and crofters have a legitimate need to construct, maintain and develop tracks constructed in lower lying land for their purposes of land management.

However, little regulation of hill tracks has allowed increased development and use of these tracks within the uplands for vehicular use which could have harmful impacts on the landscape.

Erosion, poor design and overuse of hill tracks cause further damage to our countryside.

With almost no control over construction or upgrading of hill tracks, the effect on the Scottish environment has been detrimental.

Unless this issue is addressed our natural environment will continue to suffer under the lack of regulation of hill tracks.

The impact of hill tracks on the uplands of Scotland has become increasingly evident to hill walkers and mountaineers.

Damage done by hill tracks does not only ruin the beauty of the landscape.

Flora and fauna suffer through the use of vehicles on and off tracks.

Harm to the habitat could have a consequential effect on the wildlife inhabiting the area.

The construction, regulation and control of hill tracks within the uplands of Scotland desperately need to be addressed in order to protect our natural heritage and environment.

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Current Planning Permission

Understanding planning permission and permitted development rights surrounding the construction and development of hill tracks is difficult.

Hill tracks can currently be constructed without planning consent or notification to the local authority when they are claimed as being for agricultural, forestry or repair purposes under the General Permitted Development (Scotland) Order 1992.

There are restrictions on general permitted development regarding development within particular areas, for example, National Scenic Areas, Special Areas of Conservation (SAC), Special Protected Areas (SPA) or Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

Permitted development within these designated areas would require prior approval of the planning authority.

A number of examples of tracks in these areas have not yet been controlled. There continues to be lack of clear guidance on this issue.

The ambiguity and lack of clarity surrounding the construction of hill tracks was raised through the Scottish Executive commissioned review of the General Permitted Development (Scotland) Order 1992 published in March 2007.

The current administration is reviewing permitted development rights as part of the Modernisation of Planning.

However, the anticipated date for reviewing permitted development rights in relation to non-household development has slipped again and again with an anticipated consultation date receded to summer 2010. Now it seems unlikely that a parliamentary review of regulation of permitted development rights in relation to the construction of hill tracks will take place anytime soon.


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What needs to be done

By signing the petition below you will help raise awareness and concern over the increasing construction of hill tracks within our Scottish uplands.

It is essential that we take action to protect our natural heritage for current and future generations.

This petition urges the Scottish Government to give the issues and mapping of tracks urgent attention by way of reviewing current knowledge of track location and control provisions.

Future possibilities for greater control and criteria for such developments have to be considered.

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Petition Question

I call on the Scottish Executive to consider greater controls governing the development of vehicle tracks in mountainous areas, and to protect our wild landscapes for future generations.    

Sign the petition

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Speeches in the Scottish Parliament Member's debate

Hill Tracks (Scottish Uplands)

9th. June 2010

Peter Peacock MSP

Sarah Boyack MSP

Hill Tracks petition launched >>>

Hill Tracks : examples

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