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36?SUMMER 2012WWW.NTS.ORG.UKMany criticisms of the project have been based onvisual impact. I would point out that, contrary toclaims of 20,000 people each year walking towardBen Lui, the figure is more like 3,000. In any case,comments of walkers are either neutral or in favour,as Killin Mountain Rescue Team has noted.Another common claim is that the mine will bedetrimental to the experience of walkers on the WestHighland Way, three kilometres away. OK, theCononish access route coincides for 300 metres withthe Way, which has itself crossed and run alongsidemain trunk roads. Traffic to the mine will beminimal.There are many other man-made characteristics ofthe area, such as large farm sheds, hundreds ofhectares of Norwegian Spruce, telephone and powerlines, a railway bridge, trains, telegraph poles andthe occasional jet overhead.The construction and operation of this mine willoccupy a moment in time in comparison with themillions of years since nature formed the CononishGlen and its stunning scenery. Whatever the effortsto repair the ground, natural regeneration will takeplace. A 10m-wide strip through the Tyndrumwoodland, where Scottish Water laid a pipeline onlya couple of years ago, is already difficult to locate. Itis, in any case, a condition of planning permissionto ensure that any damage to the environment willbe, as far as possible, rectified when the mine isclosed. AGAINST: Bill McDermott, Chairman, ScottishCampaign for National ParksMany readers may haveseen the saga of theCononish gold mineabove Tyndrum in theLoch Lomond andTrossachs National Park,which was depicted inTales from the NationalParkson BBC TV. Asalways with these features, it revolved aroundpersonalities - but the real story was that oldfavourite, conservation versus development.The National Parks (Scotland) Act 2000 is beingtested as never before by National Park Authorities(NPAs) trying to find ways of living withinenvironmental limits and discovering the holy grailof sustainable development. In the legislators'minds, there was a clear intent to balance thedifferent aims of the NPAs, albeit in the finalanalysis, the first aim - to protect the natural andcultural heritage of the Park - should take precedence,where there is conflict withthe other aims.The NPA has a difficultjudgement to make when itcomes to examining whetherany development issustainable because the aimof "promoting the sustainablesocial and economicdevelopment of the Park's communities" is part ofthe reasoning for establishing the Park. When socialpressures and straightforward politicking are addedingredients in any decision making, short-termconsiderations are difficult to resist.That is essentially what has happened in theapproval of the Cononish gold mine application.And yet despite protestations from the NPA that ithas achieved major improvements from the firstapplication, which it rejected, it has now set aprecedent. Apart from the conversion of GlenCononish to a large-scale industrial site, whathappens at the end of 10 years when miningpermission runs out and gold is still available to beexploited? Will the NPA be brave enough to resistmore politicking? Will the landscape of the NationalPark again be compromised? Sustainabledevelopment, by definition, cannot be based onshort-term decision making."The first aim shouldbe to protect thenatural and culturalheritage of the Park""Whatever the efforts to repair the ground,natural regeneration will take place"POLICY