Prospective MSPs urged to speak up for “irreplaceable natural, cultural and economic asset”

From the hills above Glenshee looking towards Braemar and Balmoral, and the Cairngorms ... Pic Donald MacLeod 02.01.04
From the hills above Glenshee looking towards Braemar and Balmoral, and the Cairngorms ... Pic Donald MacLeod 02.01.04

Prospective MSPs of all parties are being called upon to voice their commitment to Scotland’s mountains.

The Mountaineering Council of Scotland (MCofS) has written to all candidates in the forthcoming Scottish Parliamentary elections with a campaign briefing: ‘A sustainable future for Scotland’s Mountains’.

Mike Watson, president of the MCofS, said: “Our world-renowned mountains are cherished by hillwalkers, mountaineers and climbers from all parts of Scotland and beyond, so their future should be a concern for every MSP, regardless of where their constituency lies.

“Scotland’s mountain landscapes are essential to our communities in so many ways: recreation, tourism, employment, cultural identity, wildlife and biodiversity, peat conservation and carbon storage, energy production, water quality and flood mitigation to name but a few.

“Striking a balance between these is a challenge (and an opportunity) that we need the Scottish Government and Parliament to take seriously.”

In a letter to over 250 parliamentary candidates, the MCofS has highlighted six key priorities:

- To develop a shared vision for Scotland’s uplands, which should be treated as an irreplaceable natural, cultural and economic asset, respected and safeguarded for the benefit of all.

- To support sustainable economic development for mountain communities, which need support and investment to diversify and develop.

- To enforce existing legal powers and safeguard Scotland’s access rights, which are so essential for the nation’s health and wellbeing, but which are under threat of erosion.

- Guaranteed planning protection for Wild Land Areas, so that development is planned and regulated to enhance rather than diminish our mountain landscapes and wild land.

- To capitalise on the health and wellbeing benefits of outdoor recreation, with these being promoted in both education and health services.

- A commitment to improving safety in the mountains: a sector-wide Mountain Safety Group, led by the MCofS, is developing a strategy for improving safety, encompassing services such as public information, mountain weather and avalanche forecasts, training and mountain rescue.

Over the next three months the MCofS will be encouraging its 13,000 members and supporters to hold parliamentary candidates and their canvassers to account on these six matters and consider the responses they receive when casting their vote. The organisation also represents over 75,000 British Mountaineering Council members UK-wide on matters related to landscape and access in Scotland.