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Thursday, 2 February 2012

Scotland’s “Wildness” Map

In any discussion about wind power and wild land there is always the initial preamble about what constitutes ‘wild’ land. The argument goes, quite rightly, that ALL land in Scotland has, to some extent, been been influenced by the hand of man.

In order to protect land from wind power station development it is important to be able to show that the landscape has wild qualities that would be lost by the imposition of wind turbines, substations, access roads and pylons.

Until now,Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) had prepared a map of ‘Search Areas for Wild Land', which identified where the most significant and valued areas of wild land are most likely to be found.  The map was a preliminary one, prepared in 2002 for debate and further refinement, and did not include small areas of wild land, or attempt to precisely define the boundary of an area.

SNH has now undertaken new mapping work to refine our understanding of wild land.  Phase I of the work, which maps relative levels of wildness for the whole of Scotland, is shown below:

Wild Land Map

CLICKABLE MAP

The map shown above is the composite of four maps that compare the ‘remoteness’, ‘ruggedness’, ‘perceived naturalness’ and ‘absence of modern artefacts.’

You can go to SNH’s Website to view all the individual maps and the resultant “relative wildness” map shown above in huge detail.

SNH will consider comments on the Phase I mapping and methodology in developing Phase II.  Phase II will examine options for identifying wild land areas, which are considered of particular importance from a national perspective because of their quality and extent.  It is hoped to present the results of this work in Spring 2012.

This is hugely important in the planning process for wind power stations as we will then have a definitive map showing land that is considered sacrosanct.

24 comments:

  1. A very positive development of the Leeds University research. Land owners, managers and others may also be interested in this:

    http://www.wildlandmanagement.org.uk/

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  2. Let's be frank. The JMT are amazing. Their stewardship is first class. Other land manager should take note!

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  3. Salmond is colour blind.
    To him it is all grey and prime for concrete!

    But I would love to think it will have an influence on stopping the economic madness and vandalism.

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    1. I think it will give the planning authorities more back-up in being able to refuse planning permissions as they can point to these maps and say that there are areas of wild land that should be saved from development.

      We'll have to see how it goes. Allt Duine will be a huge test of Salmond's and Swinney's nerve and neck. If they feel that they can run rough-shod over the last refusal, then there is no hope for the rest of Scotland's wild places.

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  4. I have just seen from Twitter that CPRE (Campaign to Protect Rural England) are to publish a new report on unprotected countryside on Monday with stunning new maps.

    I'll see if I can update the blog with this information on Monday

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  5. Thanks Alan for keeping us all posted on these issues. Shame we can't get village green status for all of the Highlands.

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    1. Maybe, just maybe, with Ed Davey taking over from Chris Huhne, the government will take another look at wind energy.

      But, I doubt it. We'll have to see how it pans out.

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  6. There's more from the SNH about their maps HERE

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  7. I agree Alan, it may help planning authorities to refuse developments in areas identified as 'wild land'. Problem is though, all you'll then be able to see from this wild land will be turbines on the not-so-wild land. Alex Salmond etc will put them somewhere that's for sure. That's maybe all we can hope for, but it doesn't fill me with gladness!

    For me at the moment, the most important place to stop more industrialisation is on my own little Ochils - not 'wild' but much loved by all who walk amongst them around here.

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    1. Hi Gibson.
      (I am not sure what is happening with the time-stamps on the messages at the moment - I have been under the bonnet but can't find anything wrong..)

      I think the purpose of the map would be to see the effect a new windfarm would have on the Wildness. For instance - a new windfarm alongside a dark green area would then fundamentally shrink the dark green area - so refusal would be the obvious choice for the planners as it would be shrinking the area of perceived wild land.

      That's how I read it, anyway.
      :-)

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  8. Hi Alan

    If you're right then that certainly would be a step forward.

    Don't go under the bonnet - you'll get covered in oil for goodness sake.

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    1. :-)
      I'll get covered in that HTML stuff, or was it CCS or sumpfink? I'll have to roll up my sleeves and have another look...
      I could always get a man in. Probably better to do that rather than get one in after I have messed it all up.
      Where's Weird Darren, when you need him? eh?

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  9. Very interesting map, Alan.
    I'll disagree about ALL of Scotland showing the hand of man though. I can't find the book to back it up, but a lot of land over X metres altitude is as it is due to northern latitude, and not man felling trees, etc.
    BTW, if we Scots gain independance in 2014, then an election will be called. Who says that that us Scots will vote for a party that wants to destroy the Highlands?
    I vote SNP as a vehicle to gain independance, and i did it with a heavy heart at the last elections. I wouldn't vote for them in an independant Scotland.
    So all you wild land loving southerners should support Scottish independance. :)

    Mike fae Dundee.

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    1. Hi Mike
      :-)
      Wherever I have wandered there have been sheep and deer tracks all over the place, trig points, cairns, stalkers paths etc. However, it still feels like a fabulous wilderness to me. And worth protecting!

      Should Alex get his independence it will take incredible leadership to stop the SNP fragmenting into the disparate elements that are its make-up.

      The sooner the better. Then, as you say, there will be a better chance to protect Scotland's wild places.

      I think it's a good idea for the Scots to have their own nation. I agree with Salmond that it will be good for England as well.

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  10. If you want to get into really wild country, Alan, stop doing the TGO. ;)
    The TGO 'route' only allows a limited line across Scotland. Head further(farther?) north, and i can assure you that there aren't many sheep. Cairns only seem to appear on those stupid Mungullibleros, so avoid them, and you'll be ok. :)
    Mike fae Dundee.

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    1. Hi Mike,
      I walked a little of the far north west and then back inland parallel to the north coast on my LEJOG (see map in the RH column of this blog) and adored it. I was blown away when looking into Fisherfield and walking up through the north west. Having said that, I also enjoyed the Flow country too.

      The trouble with Scotland is that it's way too far from Berkshire.

      I should move, really.

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  11. Excellent point from Mike! At last someone tells it like it is.

    There's this idea which the likes of Ian Stewart have been pushing (especially in that revolting piece of pro-wind propaganda that was his BBC programme on changing landscapes) that there is no wild land in Scotland and we might as well dump a few thousand turbines anyway because we have changed the landscape before.

    As Mike says, the tree-line is given by the weather. When the climate was a lot warmer in the Middle Ages, there were trees higher up than today but the deforestation is not all man made.

    Second point, I'm not quite sure there's too much cause for optimism, to be honest. SNH oppose very, very few wind developments. They seem fairly relaxed about the whole matter. And their map has dark green where there are already wind farms, like Glen Moriston, or where they're going up, like around Lochluichart, so I'm not really sure, but hey, anything that draws people attention to the dwindling amount of wilderness is welcome.

    Anyway, best news of the day is the shrimp Huhne getting shafted. Wonderful, just wonderful.

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    1. "Anyway, best news of the day is the shrimp Huhne getting shafted. Wonderful, just wonderful."

      That's one way of putting it. I can't think of a better way, to be honest!

      Let's hope Ed Davey shows a little more sense and starts slashing the subsidies. That'll stop it, dead.

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    2. MP for Kingston and Surbiton. Lots of windfarms there. Fingers crossed but probably chosen because he is of the faith. Likes country walks. Yeah, Box Hill on a sunday. On positive side he doesn't list FoE, RSPB or Greenpeace as organisations that he is a member of. Favourite breakfast fresh ground coffee and figs with honeyed greek yoghurt. Sounds more like Notting Hill set than porridge and bacon butties on Sca Fell

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  12. Did you see Matt's cartHoohne today?

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/matt/

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    1. That *is* good! Mind you, they weren't ever working much before, either!

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  13. Nor sure if Huhne is/was given to much credit here for pushing wind turbines. Looking at the invited article by Alex Salmond in the Economist, 'The world in 2012' Alex S is pushing the idea that he has set new stds for lowering C02 emissions; indeed it seems to be a principal plank of strategy for an Indep Scotland. Other info from the Economist indicates Scotland is over dependent on public service employment, implying Alex S's needs to drive other areas of growth and jobs.
    Scotland, the nation of windturbine engineers is maybe his hope?

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    1. Hi Mike
      If Alex Salmond wants to reduce CO2 emissions he won't do it by adding any more wind turbines to the mix. The Adam Smith Paper (link HERE) shows that after a small penetration of wind energy there are no further CO2 reductions - in fact the reverse is true.
      Salmond want s wind energy so he can export it to England.
      Plain & simple.

      Delete

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