Planning authorities are exercising increasing control on the development of new tracks, particularly in protected areas such as National Parks, Sites of Special Scientific Interest and National Scenic Areas.
Because of this, where new tracks are required, it is necessary to prepare detailed supporting information for planning applications, including an assessment of the likely visual impact of the proposed track.
A consent was recently secured for a new section of ATV track for a Sutherland estate, located within a SSSI and a National Scenic Area. CKD Galbraith conducted early engagement with Scottish Natural Heritage, indentifying the requirement for a Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment to accompany the planning application.
Using in-house GIS (Geographic Information Systems) capabilities, CKD Galbraith created a 3D model of the site, and were able to accurately demonstrate the likely visibility of the track. In addition, it was possible to demonstrate the impact of the track on key viewpoints. This approach ensured the planning officer was able to fully appreciated the potential impact of the track and assess the application accordingly.
In this case, planning consent was granted and the track has since been constructed. The contractor was able to follow precisely the approved plans, and details such as a turfed centre section of the track ensure the visual impact of the track is minimised, important given the location of the track within a National Scenic Area.
The example shows the benefit of considering in detail how to approach a planning application for any development. This is particularly the case for rural land which is often the subject of increased protection, for example through statutory designations.
CKD Galbraith are able to provide advice on the impact of any designations on rural development proposals, as well as specific advice on the planning requirements for new hill tracks.