Planning and development presentation - Good practice for track construction
Scottish Planning Policy: Promoting Rural Development
Para 75. The planning system should:
- in all rural and island areas promote a pattern of development that is appropriate to the character of the particular rural area and the challenges it faces;
- encourage rural development that supports prosperous and sustainable communities and businesses whilst protecting and enhancing environmental quality
Para 77. In remote and fragile areas and island areas, the emphasis should be on maintaining and growing communities by encouraging development that provides suitable sustainable economic activity, while preserving important environmental assets such as landscape and wildlife habitats that underpin continuing tourism visits and quality of place.
Track construction guidance and further reading
- Constructed tracks in the Scottish Uplands
- Good practice during wind farm construction
- Floating roads on peat (NatureScot / RCS)
- CIRIA manuals
- Forests and Water guidelines
- Aden Beresford’s ‘Assessing the Success of Restoration and Reinstatement on: Onshore Wind Farms & Hydroelectric Schemes in Scotland – a Report to NatureScot
- Environment Link – ‘Track changes’ and Scottish Land and Estates response paper
- In some cases, there may be limited opportunities to modify a proposed track to avoid significant natural heritage impacts. There may also be situations where technical solutions such as the use of floating tracks over peatland areas are either judged to be insufficiently reliable or likely to result in significant impacts in their own right.
- In cases where the magnitude of impact is very high and no alternatives exist, the scheme should not be implemented.
- Pursuing development in such circumstances could result in very significant permanent damage to an important and valued part of Scotland’s natural heritage.
Landscape & visual impact assessment
Get specialist input here, if appropriate
EIA and tracks
Projects for the creation or construction of tracks may be subject to Environmental Impact Assessment. This will depend on the location and nature of the proposed track, the length or area affected and whether it is likely to have a significant effect on the environment.
Paragraph 72 of Circular 3/2011 notes that, where the local planning authority’s opinion is that an EIA is required under the Regulations, permitted development rights are withdrawn and a planning application must be submitted.
National Scenic Areas and tracks
There are certain activities where different rules apply within NSAs with regard to planning procedures, as set out in Scottish Development Department (SDD) Circular 9/1987 and the General Permitted Development Order (GPDO) 1992 as amended.
a. Activities requiring a planning application and consultation with NatureScot: [SDD Circular 9/1987] - All non-residential developments requiring more than 0.5 hectares of land.
b. Activities that are normally 'permitted development' but whose permitted development status is withdrawn, and which require a planning application and consultation with NatureScot: [SDD Circular 9/1987] - The construction of vehicle tracks for agriculture or forestry purposes, except forestry tracks which are part of an approved forestry scheme.
Other protected areas and tracks
If an operation that otherwise benefits from permitted development rights is likely to have a significant effect on a Natura site and is not directly connected with agreed Natura 2000 management arrangements, the person proposing the operation must apply to the planning authority for approval (in effect, permitted development rights are suspended). NatureScot can provide advice to the person proposing the operation on whether a significant effect is likely or not.
Information we need, but often don’t get
- Route, route, route!
- Consideration of mitigation and restoration addressing landscape impacts, as well as habitat / vegetation impacts – cut and fill, contours, side casting.
- Floating or cut?
- Width, camber, DRAINAGE
- Road covering material and colour
- Be INNOVATIVE
- Good survey data, well presented
- A really good, useful, considered CMS –
- not ‘cut and paste’ – site specific
- Simple maps can often be the most useful
- Identification and presentation of local receptors and sensitivities
- Details on Water crossings
- The inclusion of ancillary infrastructure
- Boulders lining roads
- Post markers
- Passing place
- Where the steep cut batters might be, and how the restoration of these will take place?
- Detail on storage of materials and soils, separating materials and soils and reinstatement techniques proposed.
That’s the pre-app complete…….
Route and layout and width can change on site for a variety of reasons
- Changes to the type of track (short and long term reqt.) – floating to cut track and vice versa – contractor and land owner influence
- Findings on site differ from original surveys (peat, woodland, water, GWDTE, LVIA) - changes material sources and transport options
- ECoW involvement influences design and route
- Health and Safety reasons influence design and route
- Ancillary development – borrow pit, passing places, drainage work – dealt with as the contractor goes along – no plans for these
- Perhaps water crossing locations / designs are altered
- Plans change and the Penstock and cable cannot interact with the track
- Verges and reinstatement – cut batters are cut too steep – never identified as an issue in pre-app
- Markers appear on penstock, cable and transport routes - essential for H+S?
- Reinstatement will never lead to restoration due to grazing / trampling pressures – what is the mitigation for this?
Some good and poor practice
See pdf version below for photographs
- Good practice – turf and boulder replacement
- Poor practice – unfinished culverts, poor soil management, steep cuts.
- Coir matting can stabilise slopes and allow vegetation to take hold
Poor maintenance and neglect can lead to rapid erosion