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34POLICY?SUMMER 2012WWW.NTS.ORG.UKlandscapes but, if this is to be maintained, landmanagers need to be sensibly and appropriatelyenabled to go about their work rather thanhindered. This requires safe hill access. Anyone visiting Braemar might see that theconstructed hill path to Craig Leek on theInvercauld Estate compares very favourably with thedeep, untidy, multi-stranded tracks that it replaced.It shows the substantial aesthetic improvement thatcan be achieved by allowing development of aproperly engineered track which is sensitive to itssurroundings. AGAINST: Helen Todd, development officer,Ramblers ScotlandClimb almost anymountain in Scotlandthese days and it's likelythat your eye will becaught by the ugly scarof a line zig-zagging itsway up a hillside. Atother times, you maycome across hideous,eroded tracks wherepreviously a narrow stalkers' path threaded its wayunobtrusively up to a distant corrie.New vehicular hilltracks are proliferating, pushinginto areas where there has never been a bulldozerbefore, where you can still see landforms laid downin the Ice Age. These can be seen for miles aroundand are one of the reasons why the extent of landunaffected by visual intrusion in Scotland shrankfrom 41 per cent to 28 per cent between 2002 and2009. Once vehicles gain access to this wildhinterland, further long-term damage can be causedby their wheels where vehicles roam over adjacentground.Some of these tracks may be well built, but othershave simply been bulldozed through. Once built, itis extremely rare for tracks which are no longerrequired to be grubbed up and the ground restored -with the honourable exception of work done by theNational Trust for Scotland at Mar Lodge. These tracks can currently be built withoutplanning permission if they are claimed to be foragricultural or forestry purposes. In reality, many arebuilt to facilitate access to the slopes for deer stalkersand their clients. Given the impact on landscapeand the wildland qualities of an area, RamblersScotland believes these tracks should be brought intothe planning system. That way, consultation withthe planning authority and national recreation andconservation interests can take place, to the benefitof the environment and its enjoyment. Iflandowners think the tracks are vital and an asset tothe hills, they should have nothing to fear.CONONISH GOLD MINEFOR: John Riley, Chairman, StrathfillanCommunity CouncilThe project provides anopportunity todemonstrate thatminerals, such as goldand silver, can beextracted from the earthin an environmentallysensitive manner.I am greatly impressedby the painstaking workof planners and the Scotgold team to addressconcerns of the scheme's critics, particularly inreducing the size and altering the shape of thetailings dam."Many tracks have simply been bulldozedthrough""Hill tracks are needed by ruralcommunities and are beneficial to visitors"?

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