A senior planning officer at Moray Council believes assigning “special” status to some of the area’s most spectacular landscapes will help support some of the region’s most important industries.
Thirteen sites across the region have been identified for classification as special landscape areas (SLA) in an effort to better protect them for the future.
The designations have been drawn up to replace the area of great landscape value (AGLV) tags created about three decades ago but which did not include a description of what made the locations worth preserving.
Now the local authority is considering redefining the zones in order to highlight the natural qualities when planning decisions are being considered.
Gary Templeton, Moray Council’s principal planning officer, said: “The landscape is under continual pressure from development, which is why we want to protect the variety and quality of what we have here.
“The landscape plays a big part for the tourism and whisky industries, which are both very important.
>> Keep up to date with the latest news with The P&J newsletter
“Giving areas this designation will help to control the types of development while safeguarding them for the future.”
Significant changes recommended from the previous AGLV zones include removing the Cabrach after the Scottish Government approved the Dorenell wind farm despite an objection from the council – a decision described as “unfortunate” by Mr Templeton.
A larger area in the Findhorn Valley, south of Forres, the entire Culbin Forest and a larger boundary along the coast and the Deveron Valley have also been included.
Last night, a consultation event was held at the Elgin Youth Cafe before the recommendations are finalised by councillors.
Carmen Gillies, chairwoman of Hopeman Planning Watch, attended after compiling more than 140 responses from locals at a weekend event.
She said: “We’re delighted with what has been proposed.
“It will not only protect the coastline but also to the south of the village against the potential of any development outside Hopeman’s settlement boundary.”
A scoring criteria was drawn up to identify the categories following advice from Scottish Natural Heritage and archaeologists.
A consultation will close on Friday November 2 and responses can be made by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Areas considered for special landscape area status:
- Culbin to Burghead coast
- Burghead to Lossiemouth coast
- Lossiemouth to Portgordon coast
- Portgordon to Cullen coast
- Lower Spey
- The Spey Valley
- Pluscarden Valley
- Findhorn Valley
- Deveron Valley
- Cluny Hill, Forres
- Quarrelwood, Elgin
- Ben Rinnes