WOODLAND supporting endangered species in the UK’s largest National Park has been put under serious threat due to a controversial move by the Chief Planner for the Scottish Government, according to a spokesperson for the local Badenoch & Strathspey Conservation Group. The woodland is known to support red squirrels, crossbills and rare wood ants amongst a host of other sensitive wildlife. The Chief Planner sent a Direction to the Cairngorms National Park Authority to change its Local Plan to allocate housing in the wood.
The Cairngorms National Park Authority had recently agreed that the important amenity woodland in the Highland village of Carrbridge was not an appropriate site for development. This followed guidance from senior planners appointed by the Scottish Government who vetoed development on the sensitive woodland and considered there was no need for such a scale of housing.
Luxury second homes have become a problem in the park and the Park Authority admits it cannot prevent them proliferating.However, at an April board meeting the Cairngorms Park Authority agreed to zone the woodland for development. Gus Jones of the BSCG commented: “We are extremely concerned that the Cairngorms National Park Authority has felt unable to stand up for national conservation and community interests at Carrbridge. Their decision to zone this wildlife hotspot and amenity woodland for development fails to uphold the aims of the National Park and goes against all but the interests of the developer. The grounds for the intervention by the Government Chief Planner do not stand up to scrutiny and his inappropriate involvement will reinforce the view that cronyism in planning is alive and well, even in such a sensitive site in a top tier conservation area”.