What are Hilltracks
Why the Concern?
Current Planning Permission
to be done?
Hill tracks are constructed for the purposes of easing vehicular
traffic within upland areas of the Scottish countryside.
There is concern about the increasing number of constructed hill
tracks, intruding into wild landscape and damaging our natural
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
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
Flora and fauna suffer through the use of vehicles on and off
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.
Understanding planning permission and permitted development
rights surrounding the construction and development of hill tracks
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
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.
By signing the petition below you will help raise awareness and
concern over the increasing construction of hill tracks within our
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.
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