Over at the Walk Highlands forum Big Bertie has asked for details of the Highland Council Access Officer responsible for the Alladale area so that any objections to the wildlife park plan can be registered.

The details are:

Mr Matt Dent
Access Officer – Sutherland
Planning & Development Service
Service Point
New Buildings
Main Street
Lairg
IV27 4DB

Tel/fax: (01549) 402729
E-mail:
matt.dent@highland.gov.uk

Remember that at the moment no plan has been submitted by Alladale Estate to create this wildlife park. However, it will do no harm for those of us in the outdoors community to make Highland Council aware of our concerns of the possible restriction of access across the Alladale Estate. All local authorities in Scotland have a duty to establish Local Access Forums where issues about access can be dealt with. The Alladale Estate falls within the Sutherland Local Access Forum area and I have details about the membership of that forum. I will do some research to find out contact details so those members can be contacted directly as well.

Continuing my research I have looked back at the minutes of this forum since its establishment in 2005 for any discussions about access on the Alladale Estate. The only reference is from August 2007:

7. Wildlife Park, Alladale

Mr B Field referred to recent reports concerning the proposal to create a wildlife park at Alladale, covering an area of 23,000 acres. He expressed concern at the potential for dangerous wild animals to be located over such a vast area, and the associated risks for walkers.

Mr G Robson reported that currently the Park extends over 500 hectares, and there is an existing compound which contains elk and wild boar, and in relation to which there have been no significant issues arising. However any proposal to extend this enclosure may involve the developer having to apply for planning permission for change of use, a zoo licence and access exemptions, the latter of which would require the Forum to be formally consulted.

It was agreed to note the position meantime.”

It’s interesting that the forum members thought that a 3 metre high fence extending to some 5 miles that has already been erected is not a significant issue. Surely, this creates a significant restriction to access, even with the inclusion of gates along the fence. I think that I shall attempt to make my own research rip to Alladale to see the extent of the project established so far for myself. At the same time I will be writing to the Highland Council, under the Freedom of Information Act, to find out what objections have been received by third parties to the existing fence and also what discussions have been held between council officers and the estate. If you have any other questions you think I should ask let me know.

Advertisements

I still have to watch Monday’s edition of “The real monarch of the glen” and will do on BBC iPlayer sometime later this week. In the meantime I am delighted that Paul Webster over at www.walkhighlands.co.uk has highlighted the forum discussion that I had initiated in his latest newsletter.

His final two paragraphs really do sum up the situation:

“Although Cameron McNeish will be on tonight’s episode to air the concerns of outdoor enthusiasts, many have seen the TV series so far as taking a very uncritical view of the estate’s plans. There is constant talk of ’rewilding’ and restoring the wilderness – and of being a visionary, but very little mention of the alternative view that with a fence around it, charges to enter, and the estate being smaller than the average territory of a wolf pack, the plans actually amount to the building of a huge private safari park rather than a true wilderness refuge.
No planning application for the fence has yet been made. Chris Townsend, president of the Mountaineering Council for Scotland which represents walkers and mountaineers, wrote on the TGO site that “the only way we can make ourselves heard at present is by writing to newspapers, magazines and the BBC about their uncritical promotion and by contributing to internet forums and blogs.”
Those of us who are outdoor enthusiasts need to continue to be active in promoting our views that this crazy idea to establish an exclusive safari park in the Highlands is neither good for the Highlands, the Estate or indeed possibly the animals themselves. The London-based media seem to be in love with Paul Lister and his plans but have never given equal weighting to the alternative arguments. It is time those arguments are heard.

I missed the first programme about Paul Lister and his Alladale Estate last night on BBC Scotland. For those of you outside Scotland or who missed it is available on BBC iPlayer.

Once again the BBC seem to be doing Mr Lister’s public relations job for him, seemingly extolling his plans to great a grand wildlife reserve in the Highlands. I have an open mind about the introduction of wolves, brown bear, moose and wild boar. I say introduction and not re-introduction as they have been extinct here for thousands of years and in the meantime the habitat and landscape has changed considerabley. The advocates call it a reintroduction.

I do object to thousands of hectares of land being enclosed behind a 3m high electric fence and asked to pay £45 to access land I have a right to roam over at present. The narrator said Mr Lister wanted to create a little wilderness in the Highlands. Wilderness? More like a safari park.

Perhaps, the remaining programmes in the series will be a little more balanced.

I caught a trailer on the BBC yesterday for a programme coming soon about the owner of the Alldale Estate in the Highlands. It is a six part series beginning on 7th July on BBC Scotland 2. For those outside Scotland it will be available on BBCi player or cable/satellite TV.

No doubt it will focus on his attempts to reintroduce extinct wild animals to the Highlands as part of a “game” reserve scheme. On another blog I wrote the post below about a previous prorgamme aired on 16th April 2008. I hope this time the BBC will be less biased but I doubt it.

Previous Blog Post

“Watching last night’s Natural World programme on BBC2, I had expected a balanced assessment of plans to introduce animal species to the Alladale estate that are currently extinct in Scotland. Instead we got the views of the landowner, the estate manager, two estate workers, the estate’s environmental consultant, a reserve owner from South Africa and several others who were in favour of creating a 23,000 acre Higland Game Reserve. The narrator treated us to a commentary describing the great benefits of reintroducing moose, brown bears, lynx, wild boar and wolves would bring. The only dissenting voice was the excellent Cameron Macneish who had less than a minute to explain his opposition. It is a pity the BBC decided to produce such a biased programme about an environmental issue that could have an enormous effect on a Highland wilderness, when a balanced approach was needed.

Update: In the interest of balance I have added a link to the Alladale Estate Website – here. I would recommend taking a look at their accomodation section and you will get an idea of who the Wildland Reserve is aimed at.”