New poll shows wild land support

The results of an opinion poll to gauge the level of support in the Highlands and Islands for Scottish Government proposals to strengthen protection for wild land was revealed at the recent AGM of the John Muir Trust.

The poll, of more than 500 people in eight constituencies, including the Western Isles, asked people about their attitude to the proposal that “Scotland’s wild land – land that is rugged, remote and free from visible human structures – should be given special protection from inappropriate development such as large scale wind farms”.

Excluding don’t knows, the poll results were:

53% support the propopsal to protect wild land

24% oppose the proposal wild land protection,

23% neither support nor oppose the propos.

Broken down further, the poll shows a three to one gap in favour of wild land protection.

34% “strongly support” the proposal for special wild land protection

19% “somewhat support” the proposal

10% “strongly oppose” the proposal

14% “somewhat oppose” the proposal

John Muir Trust chief executive Stuart Brooks said at the AGM: “Our key message to the Scottish Government is one of support and reassurance. This is a resounding mandate to stand firm on the proposal to identify and protect 20% of Scotland as ‘core wild land’.

“And that mandate is not just coming from conservationists, or from the outdoor recreation community, or from the tourist industry. It is coming from the people who live and work in the Highlands and Islands, adjacent to wild land areas, and have the most to gain or lose from whatever decisions are taken.”

“Scotland in 2014 is at a cross-roads. In September it faces a fundamental decision about its national identity and governance. Before then, it must decide if it is prepared to protect, beyond its people and culture, the most important asset it has responsibility for – the land itself.

“There could be no more fitting gesture as we reflect on John Muir’s relevance today, than that the Scottish Government set in place robust legislation to protect our wildest land.”