THE Beauly to Denny power line has been operating for some time now, but by
this Sunday (September 25), all traces of the temporary access roads and
bridges used in its construction must be removed from the landscape.
Throughout much of the line south from Beauly landowners have successfully
obtained planning permission to retain the access roads running through
their land, primarily for estate business. In Stirlingshire, however, there
are important historic sites to consider and public opposition ensured the
removal of the temporary roads on Sheriffmuir near the great battlefield of
the 1715 Jacobite rising, specifically because of their proximity to this
nationally important historic site.
During the summer holiday, however, when the public were unaware, the
landowner of a large part of this site secured permission to retain not
only the road through the battlefield itself, but also the Bailey bridge
over the Wharry Burn on the edge of the battlefield and leading onto the
access road. The plan is now before the Forestry Commission, in order to
secure a forest subsidy to plant on this historic site, with all the
destruction which this will cause.
Not long ago Historic Scotland (now merged with the Royal Commission on
Ancient and Historical Monuments), fearing the disappearance of Scotland’s
battlefields, drew up a comprehensive Inventory of Battlefields to ensure
that planning departments throughout the country would be well-informed
about the history of these military events and ensure that such important
sites were considered and protected. In this past year alone, however,
there have been developments threatened on Prestonpans and Kilsyth and on
the edge of Culloden. There remain, unfortunately, planners who view any
field, however its importance in Scotland’s past, as an excellent place for
a factory. Indeed Sheriffmuir, without development over 300 years, is now
regarded as an “industrial site”.
Well-informed visitors from far afield come in large numbers to view what
remains of our battlefields, but these are fast disappearing in the face of
indifferent planners. It is up to all of us, and our representatives on
local councils to act to save what remains of these, and indeed other
historic places, which are fast disappearing from the landscape.
The planners of Stirling Council have given permission for this development
on the battlefield of Sheriffmuir, but there is still the opportunity for
the public to protest to the Forestry Commission, as well as to their
councillors and MSPs, over the plan to devastate this nationally important
site still further. Our historic landscape, once destroyed, cannot be
restored in future like some old building.