For Scottish Wildness

Scotland-featured

In a recent column in the West Highland Free Press, former Labour Cabinet Minster Brian Wilson led the charge against the Scottish Government’s proposal to provide a degree of protection from large scale development for 43 areas of core wild land as mapped by Scottish Natural Heritage. He reserved some of his most venomous polemics for the John Muir Trust and other ‘zealots of the environmental movement’, which he claimed – in the scaremongering tone that will be familiar to those who remember his intervention in the 1979 referendum – want to ban every visible human structure from hen houses upwards on wild land from Cape Wrath to Morvern.

Specifically he suggested that, if wild land protection had already been put in place, “there would certainly not now be three turbines whizzing away at Loch Carnan [in South Uist] earning money for the community.” That same theme was taken up – in a more measured fashion certainly – by Fraser MacDonald in his Bella Caledonia post, Against Scottish Wildness. Fraser, perhaps having read and accepted at face value Brian Wilson’s column, cites the same example and develops the same theme.

But before coming to that, I should declare an interest. I am an employee of the John Muir Trust, the villain of Brian Wilson’s piece. I write this, however in a strictly personal capacity, as a pro-independence socialist. Brian Wilson, it should also be said, is no impartial commentator; since he stood down as UK Energy Minister in the Blair Government he has held a lucrative portfolio of directorships and consultancies in a range of energy companies involved in coal, fracking, wind, nuclear and biomass. Brian, in other words, has a serious financial stake in preventing the protection of wild land from commercial development.

But first, let’s turn to Against Scottish Wildness. Fraser MacDonald says that is that there is no such thing as wilderness in Scotland. There is no argument on that point. Almost every square centimeter of our land has been subjected to human intervention over the centuries. That is ABC – but there are other letters of the alphabet too. The Cairngorm plateau, the Cuillin mounatins and Knoydart peninsula may not be wildernesses – but neither are they Kelvingrove Park, Hyde Park or the Meadows. Anyone who believes otherwise should try to venture through these landscapes in a January snowstorm, or even spend a few days in the summer wandering through these areas without map and compass.

People don’t travel from across the world to visit Strathclyde Country Park. But they do come to the Highlands to climb the mountains, walk the hills, breathe the clean air, photograph the landscape. And they sustain thousands of small business in the tourist sector – which is by far the biggest employer in the Highlands today, with a workforce eight times larger than the entire onshore energy sector and nine times bigger than in agriculture, forestry and fishing combined.

It is simply wrong, therefore, to counterpose economic activity against wild land. Without the tourist sector – driven by landscape and employing tens of thousands of people in bars and cafes, campsites and outdoors centres, hostels and guesthouses – a new Highland Clearances would begin.

The term wild land can be deliberated upon ad nauseum, the criteria refined and nuanced until the deer disappear from the hillsides. But such a debate simply side-steps the key question: should that land, which is neither agricultural, nor urban, and which is rugged and relatively free from roads and other large modern structures, be given special protection from commercial exploitation by corporations and landowners? Or should it just be business as usual? Should the deregulation of land, which has failed so abysmally over several centuries to protect the people, the ecology and the wildlife of vast tracts of Scotland be allowed continue for another century or two?

This is not about protecting wild land from the communities who live there. The John Muir Trust is involved in a number of community partnerships, including with the North Harris Trust, the West Harris Trust, the Galson Estate Trust in Lewis and Knoydart Foundation. To suggest , as Brian Wilson has done, that the John Muir Trust would ban economic activity in these wild land areas an insult to the intelligence of those and other communities who work closely with the Trust (and perhaps Bella Caledonia might want to invite the John Muir Trust itself to make an offical contribution to this debate)

A range of environmental organisations – and political parties including the Scottish Socialist Party and now the SNP – support wild land protection not to strangle communities, but to stop the wholesale exploitation of wild land by corporations and private landowners.

It was not environmental organisations who were responsible for the near destruction of the Gaeltacht, the Highland Clearances and the degradation of much of our landscapes. The guilty men were the industrialists and landowners of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries – and their legacy of abuse is being carried on to this day by their class descendants. If anyone is standing up to the sporting estates and the energy corporations , it is those same environmental and land protection charities which are under fire from people like Brian Wilson.

Which brings us back to the connection between money, energy and land. It know it can be difficult in polite, progressive company to question the renewables industry, but it’s time the political the left stopped acting like starstruck teenagers before those energy corporations who have discovered that wind power is a highly lucrative business. These people are not benevolent crusaders fighting climate change – they are capitalists prepared to stop at nothing to make themselves piles of profit.

When a proposal is put forward to erect, in the heart of the Monadhliath Mountains, 67 steel turbines taller that any building in urban Scotland, each with a concrete foundation the size of an Olympic swimming pool, in a scheme which involves tearing up a vast area of carbon-storing peat and bulldozing 40 kilometers of access roads using materials blasted out of the surrounding landscape – and creates virtually no permanent local jobs – shouldn’t we at least be asking whether this development is really necessary in this place at this time?

And when we discover that the landowner, Charles Connell of the Clydeside shipbuilding dynasty, stands to make £60 million as his cut from the profits of a project driven by an energy corporation privatised by Thatcher and subsidised directly out of the fuel bills of people in Easterhouse and Craigmillar, do we suspend our critical faculties for fear of being accused of failing to take climate change seriously?

I personally support radical measures to reduce carbon emissions, ranging from nationwide free public transport to Scottish state ownership of North Sea oil with a hefty portion of the profits invested in developing marine energy, including wave and tidal power. I’m further in favour community ownership of land and outright public ownership of the great sporting estates to allow that land to be reclaimed for people and nature. But that programme is not on the manifesto of any major political party right now.

In the meantime, wild land protection offers some degree of protection against those who see Scotland wildest land as nothing more than a vast goldmine to be plundered for profit. Protection is not the be-all and the end-all – and there’s a still debate underway about what it might mean in practice. But it would least make a clear statement that wild land belongs to the nation of Scotland and not just to those who happen to currently hold the title deeds.

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  1. Paul W says:

    Excellent post Alan and much more eloquent than my efforts!

    1. Alan McCombes says:

      Just read your posts there under Fraser MacDonald’s piece. They’re spot on.

  2. muymalestado says:

    Yes – Excellent. There are doomsayers in the Better Together camp and pollyannas in the pro-independence camp, all of whom miss the vital truths surrounding their argument.

    There is great, great value in the least developed areas of Scotland’s landscape. Value does not arise solely from bank, or government, or hedge fund financed mechanical or biological manipulation of the terrain or the biota.

    As Alan says, people come here for good reason. When they come they pay, bringing sustenance to the glens.

  3. James Sneddon says:

    ‘it was not environmental organisations who were responsible for the near destruction of the Gaeltacht, the Highland Clearances…’ Probably one of the most stupid things I have ever seen written. No and neither was the Boys Brigade responsible. You should be ashamed of yourself. It’s the kind of nonsense I would expect from Better Together to be honest. It spoiled an interesting article. For the record I am equally cynical about the JMT and the renewables industry. The highlands are more than a play park for tourists, the needs of the people should always come first. Tourist jobs are mainly seasonal and low paid so an investment in other types of industry are needed e.g. broadband infrastructure, roads and many other kinds of activities that with independence is best for the total well being of the highlands and islands.

    1. Alan says:

      It was a rhetorical point, James, but I think you’re going a wee bit over the top in your reaction. Otherwise I don’t disagree with you.

    2. Angus Jack says:

      James, have you any idea how many permanent jobs are created by the wind farm developments? Damn few. I accept that seasonality and low pay are issues in the tourist industry and we should work to improve that, however our landscape is of international importance and do you really believe that multinational power companies, their shareholders or wealthy itinerant landowners care one little bit about it? They are the real beneficiaries of these developments. Meanwhile every electricity customer pays a levy, whether they can afford it or not, to subsidise these so called green energy projects.

      Alan’s article was spot on, in my opinion.

  4. Edulis says:

    I am with you Alan. Having witnessed the revolution in public attitudes to community empowerment that has taken place in Harris, I can see nothing but good coming from the current direction of travel in community landownership. But I also agree that the crazy developer-led rush to cash in on wind turbines is an affront to the public good perpetrated by the Labour Party of Brian Wilson. Vested interest to the fore once again Mr5 Wilson. You are a disgrace. The WHFP has gone to your head.

  5. douglas clark says:

    Alan,

    If you ever go out of Milngavie on the Road to Strathblane, look to your left as you pass Milngavie Waterworks – which is in itself a huge man made structure. You will see a small cottage sitting on a ridge that has been allowed to fall into utter disrepair. It’s roof has almost collapsed and there aren’t even windows in it.

    It is, frankly, a blot on the landscape.

    I would be very interested in it’s history and the reason that it hasn’t been redeveloped or indeed demolished. It cannot be because of it’s wilderness location, it is almost certainly because a public landowner doesn’t release it. I have no idea why that would be.

    There are undoubtedly vested interests at work in our society who care not a jot for the damage that they can and do do to landscape. But decent landscape can include dwellings and micro-economies that support people. If you’ve ever been to the Lake District it always strikes me as the Trossachs with communities and facilities. It is also an enormous tourist trap.

    I think that this discussion must involve the politics of land ownership. The laird whose view is going to be interrupted by a new house for the children of people who live there is as set in his ‘rights of veto’ as his ancestor who viewed sheep as a finer vista than people.

    We jest about a tax on breathing. We ought, I think, to nationalise any land footprint required for wind turbines, tidal power, wave power, etc. Otherwise it remains a form of expoitation by vested interests.

    This is a nasty little ‘earner’ for folk that do nothing whatsoever for the societies they are allowed to supervise rather than live in. Doing nothing can be just as bad as doing something.

    1. Alan says:

      Not been to the Milngavie reservoirs for years so not sure about the building or its history. I certainly would have no disareement with the points with the points you make about dwellings and micro-economies.

      Just a question of scale and exact location because as the Scottish Govt planning policy consultation document says (and I’m quoting just from memory here) ‘some of Scotland’s most remote upland, mountain and coastal wild land has little or no capacity to accept new development.’

    2. dayetucker2011 says:

      Like you Douglas I have watched with frustration, that cottage and its companion deteriorate and crumble since the sixties. One was empty even then with the roof falling in and the other housed the farm owner’s housekeeper. It too has now disintegrated.The owner of the farm was a reclusive eccentric. Since his death, even the once beautiful, imposing farmhouse is derelict and crumbling. My niece tells me the property is now for sale. Perhaps now it can come to life again. However the one that really upsets me is the dereliction of Keir Estate properties just north of Stirling at the M9’s Keir roundabout.

  6. Barontorc says:

    God above, spare us from the crass capitalism that Brian Wilson shamelessly represents. Our water would disappear into some chancer’s pocket if he had his way. He is not a socialist. He is a self-seeking carpetbagger.

  7. Bidean nam Bian? Thanks for that Alan a weel measured piece. I am embarrassed to say that my faither provided the proto socialist, who is quite happy, despoiling the Highland,with eggs. If only we knew eh?

  8. Iain Ross says:

    I have zero time for Brian Wilson but I have to say I can not agree with much of this article.

    “It was not environmental organisations who were responsible for the near destruction of the Gaeltacht, the Highland Clearances and the degradation of much of our landscapes. The guilty men were the industrialists and landowners of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries – and their legacy of abuse is being carried on to this day by their class descendants.”

    This is true but why have organisations like the John Muir Trust stepped into their footsteps? First it was sheep, then sporting estates and now it is wild land. They are just following their own agenda and denying the people of the Highlands the right to own the land.

    You argue that the lifeblood of these areas is tourism and that this agenda of “wild land” shall help protect and develop the community. Really? Do you even realise how poor the jobs related to tourism actually are? You have missed the boat, the fact that these crap jobs are just about the only things going is one of the key reasons that the life is draining out of Highland communities everyday. I should know, as that is what has happened to me and just about everybody else I went to school with from the community in Sutherland where I come from.

    “A range of environmental organisations – and political parties including the Scottish Socialist Party and now the SNP – support wild land protection not to strangle communities, but to stop the wholesale exploitation of wild land by corporations and private landowners.”

    This may well be the case but in my opinion they are not tackling the core issue here which is land reform and who actually owns and controls the land. I have always been pro-SNP but I feel that the current SNP are alienating core supporters like with their inaction in regard to the issue of land reform. There has been no radical move on this issue which is frankly embarrassing. As much as I like him Alex Salmond is far to pro-business / landowner for my tastes on this issue. It may be a case of not wanting to scare the horses and I hope there shall be real movement following the YES vote. At this point I am prepared to give him and the SNP the benefit of the doubt.

    In the meantime, there are serious questions to be asked of organisations like the John Muir Trust in regard to their motives. A browse of Andy Wightman is highly recommended.

    By the way where I come from it is Gàidhealtachd not Gaeltacht, the later is generally used to describe Gaelic speaking parts of Ireland.

    Iain

    1. Lesley M says:

      Absolutely spot on Mr Iain Ross.
      Mr McCombes extols the highly dubious virtues of the Highlands having a tourism sector ‘workforce eight times larger than the entire onshore energy sector and nine times bigger than in agriculture, forestry and fishing combined’.
      More’s the pity I say.
      These tourism related jobs- in the vast majority- are low paid, often seasonal, often with no clear career path and jobs like that are just not going to keep our smart, well qualified, ambitious youngsters in their Highland coastal communities or in the beautiful, ruin littered -but hey, photogenic – glens of the highlands.
      My kid is a Mechanical Engineer with expertise in the renewables sector and she cannot wait to come back to Scotland to use her experience and skill in her native Highlands. But she sure as heck won’t come back to waste her abilities on clearing other peoples pubes out of holiday house shower trays.

      And yes it’s true that big landowners can rake in cash from wind energy projects but their often is a big benefit in the form of hard cash attached for local community benefit from these projects, don’t forget.

      And what about the fragile communities situated in National Scenic Areas facing falling school rolls, piers crumbling, ageing demographic, no public transport… plenty of them.
      Allow them get their turbine or hydro scheme going as quick as they can to support their own sustainability without let or hindrance within the present guidlines of planning, before these communities become rarer than hen’s teeth.

  9. Good article and a necessary counterpoint to Brian Wilson’s haverings.

    Not sure why people have a problem with the JMT as they’ve done fine work across the world helping protect areas of wild land from corporate developers. Its not an either/or situation regarding tourism v repopulating the Highlands. Of course the latter has to be the priority but people want to enjoy wilderness for what it is: fresh air, inspiring landscape, walking and climbing, nature and wildlife, an antidote to life in cities, a tonic for the soul.

    Alan makes an important point about the landowners & corporations who are currently making a fast buck – and a very large one too – from renewable energies. It worries me that these large corporate bodies intend to leech as much of the renewable energy of Scotland from our communities. These organisations have no concern for the land nor the people and would bulldoze through a nature reserve if there was a dollar in it for them.

    As others have said accountable land trusts and community ownership is a much better way forward.

    KW

  10. What about the Folk ? Are they forever to be kept in concrete reservations ? Going on holiday to visit where their ancestors lived , in their own country no less. Has anybody ever, since the Early Middle Ages given a monkey’s. ‘Hutting’ seems to be the only attempt at re dispersing the populace since The Seven Men of Knoydart. Now it’s to be a park indeed. Can folk not live with their environment ? manage it. We need to build a new country. Have you any idea how many are homeless ?, it’s shocking. There are waiting lists for the waiting lists and i kid you not.

  11. a few of the comments above ask why some people are against the johnmuirtrust. in my experience they are another good organisation that has gone bad. i will give you an example of how i have come to this conclusion.
    Knoydart is one of the truly wild and most beautiful settings on mainland Scotland, it also harbours the largest remaining ancient Caledonian forests to be seen anywhere with possibly the purest Caledonian Pine specimens available anywhere in the world, as there are no forestry plantations in the vicinity where cross pollination can occur..
    the jmt, who has ‘ownership’ commendably decided to help extend this natural forest by collecting seeds and replanting areas that had been lost..
    they deer fenced a large area surrounding the remnants of the forest, sad but possibly necessary in the short term… but when i returned to see how this regeneration was working i was shocked to see that the entire area had been planted symmetrically, with young trees spaced in a rigid 2 by 2 metre grid formation. there was no attempt whatsoever to disguise the fact that this was a commercial planting and the antithesis of a natural generation. i was sick to the core, i still am. i am afraid, in my opinion the modern day jmt falls into the same category as the national trust for Scotland, which is still raping and pillaging our country before our very eyes. i could give you many examples of this summation but i will not digress from the issue at hand, today.

    1. I imagine they have simply hired tree planters and let them have at it. This does raise concerns about any degree of ‘sensitive management’ . I am shocked to hear this, it’s quite frankly arse for elbow.

    2. Susan Wright says:

      hi John. The John Muir Trust only owns a small bit of Knoydart called Li and Coire Dhorrcail. Were you on the right bit? I was there a few weeks ago and the planted trees and the natural regeneration they’ve spawned blew me away. I was there with members of the Trust who had done some of the original planting 20 years ago. The only lines are the unfortunate ones between the trees and bare hill caused by having to fence the growth for so long, and even there natural regen has begun.

      We have some pictures taken on Knoydart last month (in the amazing weather) on Flickr at:

      http://www.flickr.com/photos/johnmuirtrust1

      The Trust didn’t gather seeds 20 years ago – they had to be bought from a neighbouring estate because the land was so treeless. This year, for the first time, we were able to gather seeds from the trees that have grown on Trust land and register them as an official seed source.

      The trees that were planted, and which are regenerating, include birch, Scots pine, oak, hazel, rowan, and even juniper (which the deer seem to especially love). It’s really beautiful.

      1. johnnostie says:

        Hi Susan, in my previous comment i was referring to the remnants of the ancient Caledonian pine forest at the head of Loch Hourn, south east of Barrasdale. it may well be that i was misinformed about the ‘ownership’ or who was responsible for the regeneration in this deer fenced area.
        prior to the fencing and planting of this area i hiked into the ‘forest’ as a member of a seed collection party. we only took seeds from the callie pines, as i remember and as you also imply there were very few other tree species growing in the vicinity apart from junipers and some ancient birch. these Callie cones were gathered on behalf of the then Forestry Commission, the seeds were extracted, certified and subsequently germinated and grown in a nursery. i had thought/hoped that some of these trees would in due course find their way back to Barrisdale.
        when i returned the following year it was fenced and we only saw pine trees that were planted within the fence. without a microscope there is no way of telling between Scots pine and Callie pine saplings but i had assumed they were the latter. there was no signs of birch, oak, rowan or hazel planted in it.
        i had a look at the photos you posted the link for and i agree it looks great and it is brilliant that signs of self-regeneration has begun. my only concern being, you mentioned planting Scots pines as surely these will cross pollinate with the pure ancient Caledonians and create hybrids thus destroying the purity the Caledonian forest once had?
        i am not against conservation, quite the opposite actually. i agree with many of the correspondents above that not just the land and our coastal waters needs to be preserved but the local populations need to protected and sustainable employment must also be encouraged and developed.

    3. sorry, this is not the case. I’ve only spent about 3 days in and around the small coire that JMT look after on knoydart, but it’s not planted that way. Volunteers planted that coire over a generation and the regen is sound and moving up the glen of it’s own accord…slowly. Some of the fencing has been removed now. It’s not a finished project but this work takes a long time. Maybe you saw parts that weren’t under Trust management? I know the boundaries and will vouch for this project.

      1. John. That’s interesting. I’ll have a talk with our land manager up there and get the detail. He was one of the original planters as a volunteer. Can you send me an email and we can maybe chat about it — susan [dot] wright [at] jmt.org. Yes, we do actually care about local populations. Funnily enough, most people at the Trust are local people. They live, work, socialise, and raise families in Sutherland, Skye, Harris, Ross and Cromarty, Lochaber, Scottish Borders, Aberdeenshire and Perthshire. A few also in the central belt.

  12. Iain Ross says:

    “Not sure why people have a problem with the JMT as they’ve done fine work across the world helping protect areas of wild land from corporate developers. Its not an either/or situation regarding tourism v repopulating the Highlands. Of course the latter has to be the priority but people want to enjoy wilderness for what it is: fresh air, inspiring landscape, walking and climbing, nature and wildlife, an antidote to life in cities, a tonic for the soul.”

    Sorry to say this but I think you are missing the point. Firstly all this wilderness is fake, the current “wildness” is made made. Secondly all this “tonic for the soul” stuff is fine but it should not be the case that the upland areas of the country are turned into some sort of playground for urban dwellers to bask in on the odd weekend when they fancy it.

    This is why I think organisations like the JMT are simply following in the footsteps of the other big landowners who have gone before them. Of course they argue that they are “better” kind of landlord but they are a landlord none the less and through ownership of the basically ALL the land in whatever area their estate(s) are located control the life of the communities that reside there. If the JMT were serious they could break up their land holdings by engaging with local groups but they won’t as the are landowners and it is not in “their” interests just like it was in the past.

    “Alan makes an important point about the landowners & corporations who are currently making a fast buck – and a very large one too – from renewable energies. It worries me that these large corporate bodies intend to leech as much of the renewable energy of Scotland from our communities. These organisations have no concern for the land nor the people and would bulldoze through a nature reserve if there was a dollar in it for them.”

    There is truth in this but I re-iterate what I said above, JMT are just the same their agenda might be slightly different but it doesn’t make them any better.

    What needs to happen is that the feudal landholding system that underpins rural Scotland needs to be radically changed. We need a model more akin to other European countries. JMT and the like playing at with all their community partnerships is just window dressing. Like I said this is why the SNP have been such a disappointment in this regard, hopefully following a YES vote we shall see movement.

    1. The Feudal landowning at the heart of the problem, which has long disguised itself as ‘keeping’ the land for the people can only change with it’s eradication . Only in a New Republic can such radical and long awaited change take place. I believe that our wilder areas, which i think means everything north of the Forth and Clyde , the very heart of our country, needs re invigorated , not kept in a glass case for day trippers or those seeking tax breaks or priced prohibitively expensively for Scots to even dream of buying.

  13. Claire Mills says:

    Oh get over yourself. The Monadh Liath are one of the most underwealming mountain ranges in Scotland. They are well and truly spoilt by man, though dams, buildings, tracks and estate management. This is an ideal place to stick a windfarm and in doing so other areas which truly are special, like Assynt, can be safeguarded. I am utterly bored by the militant JMT and their emotive attacks on those who support wind energy. If they were more proportionate and reasonable, and stopped bending the truth to suit them, then people might take them a wee bit more seriously.

    1. Wullie says:

      Re’ the Monadh Liath, I walked the new high level Balfour Beattie road, from the Corrieyairack to Garva bridge the other week. (The workies had gone home).
      Quite apart from the marvelous engineering, the views over the Braes of Spey, from that height, were magnificent. I fancy it would ski very well also.

  14. Kinski says:

    This is an interesting debate and I disagree in part with both sides of it.

    I have a problem with the idea of tourism being a good thing anywhere. Of course I understand it brings in money to areas that would otherwise probably struggle to exist. But is tourism really a good thing and should a environmental organization be promoting it? Many people drive hundreds of miles around the Highlands every summer pumping out CO2 from their oversized mobile homes to take picture postcard photos yet never actually go into the wild land. I once met a man who spends 8 weekends every year flying from London to Inverness to “bag” Munros. That’s 16 flights to climb a few hills. He had a mobile home too. So I simply do not think that tourism is a valid argument for protecting wild land.

    But that is not to say that wild land should go unprotected. Just imagine if Donald Trump got his hands on the Highlands to create some kind of country sized-theme park. That would be a tragedy. But seriously, it’s easy to criticize the capitalists and their money make schemes to the detriment of the environment, yet we are all part of this capitalist, consumer driven system. Until we come up with a new system that involves sacrificing some comforts and luxuries in order to lead simpler lives, we will remain slaves to it.

  15. bellacaledonia says:

    I’m not so sure. This was sent to me and I have to agree both with the sentiment and the specific from Angus Padraig Campbell (An t-Eilean, Islands Book s Trust 2013).
    p. 72 (Eng original) “Wilderness has become a rather fashionable word in our ecologically challenged world, but these empty Highland straths speak to me of negative space: they are filled with what is not there, inhabited by absence.” I think there’s a wider social and cultural issue that we’re not engaging with.

  16. Simon Brooke says:

    The problem with this is that Scotland’s ‘wild land’ is not in fact wild land. It is, largely, man-made wet desert which was once productive inhabited land; deforestation, and overgrazing by sheep and deer, has reduced it to the state in which it will no longer support a viable human population. Trying to ‘protect’ this ‘wild land’ from ecological recovery is not conservation, it is vandalism.

    What is needed, in the short term, is reforestation, massive culling of deer and sheep, and the reintroduction of climax predators to prevent the deer getting out of control again. It will take centuries for the landscape to recover, of course; but in the meantime giant wind turbines are neither more artificial nor more ugly than bare hillsides and screes.

  17. annie says:

    I sincerely hope that in a YES Scotland these conservative ‘Trusts’ will be shown the door. In the wider world, eco-social conservationists are explaining that it is simply wrong to keep ‘people’ out and that an eco-social balance within natural habitats is much more successful at preserving biodiversity. After all, it is not the existence of industry/agriculture that destroys biodiversity but the ‘type’ of industry/agriculture that determines whether biodiversity survives.

    http://climateandcapitalism.com/2012/10/17/natures-matrix/

  18. Jane Ingham says:

    Interesting Alan and has provoked more discussion on a range of issues between Jon and I as we holiday in the “desolate Northumberland” (which is ,by the way, beautiful, nearly as beautiful as the North of Scotland).

  19. Anneliese says:

    Nice post. I learn something new and challenging on sites I
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  20. Simon Brooke says:

    If you want to protect landscape “from commercial exploitation by corporations and landowners”, isn’t the answer just to boot them off it, either (as LRRG suggest) by limiting holding size and banning offshore companies, or by taxing it at a rate which is too onerous for them to bear? Protecting the landscape from absentee plutocrats should not mean also protecting it from the developments that local people need to maintain their livelihoods.

  21. DAn curran says:

    Where the picture from please which moutian??

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