Jun 18 2019

Moray – Putting Nature First

My main task as a threat detector is to review planning applications for any potential risk to ancient woodland. However, I have also taken on the additional task of reviewing Local Development Plans (LDPs). These plans set out a Council’s development aims for the coming 5 years.


Example of an LDP map showing proposed areas for development

I have reviewed 3 LDPs to date and the approaches the different councils take and the layout of the plans varies significantly. All include an Environmental statement which is usually very positive committing to the protection of woodland and other natural environments. Despite this, areas of ancient and other native woodland are still among the sites earmarked for development.

There are signs however, that at least in Moray, things are improving. The most recent plan I reviewed, that from Moray Council is beginning to buck the trend.Of the may areas being considered for development, only a couple were on or adjacent too woodland. In addition to this, there was even some guidance within the proposal to leave buffer zones and/or to plant native hedges and woodland to enhance and protect the existing environment.





Pluscardon Valley, one of the woodland areas highlighted in Moray’s Local Landscape Designation Review.

In addition to their LDP, Moray Council has also issued a Local Landscape Designation Review (LLDR). From a stage 1 evaluation, this document identified 13 candidates to be considered as Special Landscape areas, including area of Ancient and long-established woodland. Statements of importance were outlined for each detailing their specific character and importance. These also contained management recommendations to provide guidance on what types of development may be appropriate in the designated landscape.

So well done Moray, here’s hoping other Council follow suite and begin to celebrate and protect their natural environments rather than just paying lip service.

Alison Stewart
Woods Under Threat Detector

1 Comment
  • ArinaNagy-Vizitiu

    Alison, thank you for you thoughts on this. You know these plans back to front through your LDP work. As it happens I met Moray Council yesterday and they are as good in real life as they are in their policies, very ambitious but unfortunately under resourced to deliver to the full extent of their ambition. Will pass on this wee article which they will love to see. You will be pleased to know that they really value our comments and have found our consultation engagement very helpful as a start to a good working relationship.

    June 20, 2019 at 3:40 pm

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