The Angry Corrie 5: Jan-Feb 1992
And they call it democracy...
A recent BBC Scotland programme, probably entitled Focal Point or Depth of Field, shed light on the finely grinding wheels of our mother of all democracies. It seems that when the Nature Conservancy Council becomes Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) in a couple of months, under the guidance of Magnus "my ancestors could sack your ancestors" Magnusson, it will face a number of problems. Firstly there are 23 outstanding appeals against sites of special scientific interest inspired by the case of farmer John Cameron who got £1 million compensation for having some obscure dragonfly on his land which stops him digging a few ditches. Thus Magnus takes office with these appeals pending. When asked by BBC man George Hume if this was an albatross round his neck, Magnus made his thoughts crystal clear.
"...the albatross as you call it could become an albatross if it is not addressed. I am happy that it will be addressed in such a way that it won't be an albatross..."
Of course we in this country bask in the benefits of the second chamber where erudite and principled nobles sift out the dross from the House of Commons legislation. Unfortunately for those of us in the hillwalking and naturalist fraternity these guardians also happen to own the land we romp in. In the case of the SNH legislation the revolting nobles were led by Lord Pearson of Rannoch. In the words of Brian Wilsom MP "charabanc loads of Highland landowners came down to push through their vested interests and then they complain that the legislation they are considering is undemocratic, unacceptable and comparable to Saddam Hussein". The end result of all this appears to be a so-called "compromise" between Ian Lang and the nobles which leaves poor old Magnus open to a committee of appeal every time he tries to protect some dying butterfly. The greatest living Icelander apparently learned of this committee's introduction the day before it became law and was "greatly taken aback".