Call for moratorium on Outer Hebrides designations

The Sustainable Development Committee of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar today unanimously agreed to call for a ten year moratorium on the introduction of any new environmental designations in the Outer Hebrides.

Speaking at a meeting of the Committee, Chair Cllr. Alasdair Macleod said: “The Outer Hebrides are affected by several forms of environmental designations: International RAMSAR designations; Special Protection Area; Special Area of Conservation. SSSI’s and Wild Land.

“The Outer Hebrides are making a significant contribution towards Scotland’s overall commitment to safeguarding the natural environment. We make a greater contribution than any other part of Scotland, with significantly more of our land under designation than any other part of Scotland.

“I don’t think it’s a coincidence that we have the highest level of designation and the lowest level of GDP.

“With the introduction of Marine Protected Areas and the potential for new marine Special Protection Areas we can see the potential for our seas to become overly designated in the same way that our land has.

“For an area dependent on so many forms of marine activity this is a development that we should be incredibly wary of.

“Over the past period the Comhairle has adopted a policy position of only supporting new designations if it could be clearly demonstrated that they had no potential to adversely impact on economic activity and if they were supported by local communities.

“With the publication of new information in regard to the suite of draft Special Protection Areas, I think the Comhairle’s position should now become stronger.

“I would therefore wish to put forward a new recommendation asking that Comhairle nan Eilean Siar adopt a position of seeking a ten year moratorium on the introduction of any new environmental designations in the Outer Hebrides.

“I recommend formally writing to both the Scottish Government and the European Commission outlining that position.”

The recommendation of the Committee will now go to the full Comhairle next Thursday (2nd October).