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Wild Land

Whats New?

Our consultation on the draft document Assessing impacts on Wild Land Areas - technical guidance  PDF document closed on 7 April 2017.  We are currently considering all responses and what revisions to the guidance are required.

We have published accompanying wild land descriptions  PDF document for all 42 Wild Land Areas.


For many people, one of Scotland's defining characteristics is its  'wilder' landscapes - extensive, largely semi-natural areas with minimal signs of human influence.  Often found in the north and west, these can be mountains, hills and moorland, stretches of undeveloped coast or large areas of peat bog.

These wilder landscapes have a distinct and special character, which is increasingly rare to find and distinguishes Scotland from much of the rest of the UK and many parts of Europe.  A key component of Scotland's identity, they bring significant economic benefits, attracting visitors and tourists.  Many people derive psychological and spiritual benefit from their existence, and they provide increasingly important havens for Scotland's wildlife.  SNH commissioned a review of the range of benefits attributed to these landscapes in 2006.

Surveys have revealed strong and widespread support for safeguarding these landscapes. For example a 2012 survey  PDF document found that 77% of the Scottish population believe it is very important to protect wild areas in Scotland, and 60% felt these areas were under threat (this 2012 review also provides an overview of earlier surveys).

The Scottish Government's third National Planning Framework recognises wild land as a "nationally important asset" requiring strong protection. Scottish Planning Policy sets out how this should be achieved, by identifying and safeguarding the character of Wild Land Areas (WLAs) in Development Plans and in Spatial Frameworks for onshore wind farms, and considering the effect of development on these areas.

Assessing impacts on Wild Land - Consultation Draft

We consulted on new guidance on Assessing impacts on Wild Land Areas - technical guidance  PDF document  in early 2017, and are currently considering all responses.   In order to support Scottish Planning Policy, now that WLAs have been identified and their qualities defined,  it will be appropriate to apply the consultative draft in place of the Assessing the impacts on wild land: interim guidance note  PDF document 2007. The revised draft guidance should be the starting point for those undertaking an assessment of impacts on a WLA.

The new draft guidance sets out a methodology and general principles for assessing the impact of development proposals on Wild Land Areas identified on the 2014 SNH WLA map  PDF document , drawing on the published descriptions  (email if you have any questions).

Wild Land Descriptions

A description of each of the 42 Wild Land Areas has been prepared and can be viewed by selecting the relevant WLA in the map below, or from the list of wild land descriptions  PDF document .

The descriptions draw out a set of wild land qualities for each of the WLAs. These qualities result from particular combinations of the wild land attributes and their influence when experienced.

This work was largely undertaken by independent consultants (Caroline Stanton and Buchan Landscape Architecture), in collaboration with SNH, using an agreed methodology  PDF document .  This work provides a sound baseline from which future assessments of impacts on WLAs can be undertaken.

Last updated on Monday 17th April 2017 at 10:57 AM. Click here to comment on this page