Highlands & Islands

Charities want government to commit to UK landscape

Torridon. Pic: Copyright of Iain Maclean
Image caption The John Muir Trust said wild landscapes were more than scenery

An alliance of environmental and heritage bodies have urged government to commit to giving greater protection to natural landscapes.

The call is made in a letter to the prime minister and first ministers of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

Scottish charity the John Muir Trust is among the organisations to sign the letter.

It said landscapes were more than scenery and were important contributors to the economy.

The letter has also been signed by the National Trust, National Trust for Scotland, Northern Ireland Environment Link and the Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales.

It urges the governments and assemblies to reaffirm their commitment to the European Landscape Convention.

Ratified by the UK government in 2006, the convention seeks to have natural landscapes recognised in law and relevant areas of policy.

Stuart Brooks, chief executive of the John Muir Trust, said Scotland has about 300 distinct types of landscape.

He said: "But landscape is more than scenery.

"It is the interaction between people and place and is the bedrock upon which our society is built. It gives meaning and value to the world around us, contributing to our sense of identity and quality of life."

Mr Brooks added "In 2003, the value of people visiting the landscape, through exploring parks, woodland areas, lochs and open space was estimated by Scottish Natural Heritage as nearly £4bn.

"The same study reported that visitors to Scotland's wild landscape areas contributed as much as £751m to the Scottish economy, supporting 20,600 jobs."

The open letter comes amid opposition to new wind farms in the Highlands.

The John Muir Trust and Mountaineering Council of Scotland have expressed disappointment at approval for 33 turbines at Dunmaglass in the Monadhliath hills.

A public meeting held over the weekend also heard opposition to plans for a 28-turbine development on land between Kiltarlity and Abriachan.

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