Public 'backs wild land turbine ban'

Loch Duntelchaig. Pic: Copyright of Iain Maclean The John Muir Trust wants protection for Scotland's wild land

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The majority of Scots want the country's wild land to be protected from windfarms, according to a survey by the John Muir Trust.

The poll of about 1,100 people said 75% were in favour of protecting 20% of Scotland's landscape - with 6% opposed.

The trust said this gave ministers a clear mandate to introduce protection.

The study followed a decision by Holyrood's Public Petition's Committee not to pursue the trust's petition for statutory designation for wild land.

Stuart Brooks, chief executive of the conservation group, said the survey came amid a Scottish government consultation on planning policy, and with an official wild land map on the table.

He said: "We have argued all along that the government's targets for reducing greenhouse gases can be achieved without sacrificing our unique wild landscapes.

"This poll sends a resounding message to the Scottish government that the people of Scotland want them to stand firm and deliver their promise to safeguard our wild and rugged land from industrial-style development."

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In the survey, 40% said they would "strongly support", while a further 35% "tend to support" the proposal that:"the 20 per cent of Scotland's landscape identified as 'core wild land' - rugged, remote and free from modern visible human structures - should be given be special protection from inappropriate development including wind farms."

Only 2% said they would "strongly oppose" protection, while 4% said they "tend to oppose" it. Of the remainder, 14% said they "neither support nor oppose" the proposals, with 5% undecided.

The study suggested that support for the proposal was almost evenly spread across Scotland's political parties and social classes.

There was also decisive backing for wild land protection across all age groups, the report claimed.

John Hutchison, chair of the John Muir Trust, said: "Regardless of gender, class, age or party political allegiance, Scotland is united in wanting to keep our wild landscapes free from large scale wind farms, giant pylons, super quarries and other inappropriate commercial developments.

"Scotland's rugged mountain landscapes are part of our national heritage and identity - and the message from our people is that our wild land is not for sale.

"We are sure that MSPs from across the spectrum will take note of the fact that the breadth and the depth of support for wild land far outstrips support for any political party."

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