The Reporters to the Public Inquiry finished taking submissions form the many objectors in November 2008 and then spent several months considering the arguments before making their recommendation to the Scottish Ministers in the spring of this year. The Scottish Ministers are expected to make their decision before the end of the year.
Over 17000 objections were received against the Pylon Proposal and those objectors will clearly be hoping that the Pylon Proposal is refused. Another possible outcome is that the proposal is approved but with the section crossing Sheriffmuir and the Ochils diverted and undergrounded to the west of Stirling.
All that we can do now is wait and hope&.
Those who have visited Sheriffmuir during the summer will have noticed that timber harvesting is taking place at Sheriffmuir Big Wood, the area nearest to the Inn and where the Battle is believed to have started. Clan MacRae was consulted before the Extraction Licence was granted and we expressed our view that we accepted that the trees were a crop and would have to be harvested at some point. We indicated that we would not object to the harvesting if an undertaking was given that the area would not be replanted and would be allowed to return to the natural moorland that existed at the time of the Battle. We made the point that it had been widely reported in the Scottish Press that the Scottish Government was to introduce legislation to protect Scottish Battlefields and asked that replanting, compulsory under Scottish law, would be delayed until this new legislation comes into effect. The Forestry Commission co-operated by agreeing to delay replanting until the beginning of 2012.
Well pleased with this result, we then wrote to Mike Russell, the Minister for Culture, asking for a progress report on the new legislation. Our letter was passed on to Historic Scotland and we were appalled to learn that the question of legal protection had been misreported in the press and no protection of Scottish Battlefields is proposed. The Scottish Government was aware that the matter had been misreported but had chosen not to make the relevant parties aware of that fact. The legislation proposed does require Local Authorities to take into account the historical significance of a battlefield site when considering any planning application, in effect passing the buck to the Local Authority. It is reasonable to assume that Local Authorities have always taken the significance of such sites into account. It is interesting to note that a similar bill is slowly making its way through the legislative process in England and that bill will afford English Battlefields the protection that our Scottish Government is denying to Scottish Battlefields.
There is obviously some urgency in finding a solution to this matter or the area is likely to be replanted during 2012. Discussions are ongoing within the Society as to how we can best proceed.
Sheriffmuir Update - Click here