A NATIONAL nature network must be created to stop developers destroying biodiversity, Bannockburn bosses say.

The National Trust for Scotland (NTS) looks after more than 70 gardens and designed landscapes as well as battlefields like Bannockburn and Culloden and wild spaces such as Glencoe and Mar Lodge.

It’s calling for a Danish-style overhaul of the planning system to make consideration for biodiversity a requirement for authorities.

The scheme seeks to ensure linkage between sites where species can thrive and prevent the proliferation of “green deserts” with little biodiversity, such as manicured lawns where few plant or animal types are tolerated.

NTS will make the call in its manifesto ahead of next month’s Scottish Parliament elections.

The document hasn’t yet been published but Diarmid Hearns (above), head of public policy at NTS, told the Sunday National the current system is ripe for a revamp due to widespread dissatisfaction with it: “Planners aren’t happy, the public isn’t happy, developers aren’t happy – no-one is really happy with the system. We are trying to get green infrastructure included.”

The NTS manifesto calls on parties to “commit to a new planning system which will create a better-quality environment for people and nature and protect, develop and nurture the nation’s urban greenspaces, parks and gardens”.

And it proposes new ways to ensure the sustainable use and enjoyment of our landscapes through shifts in planning rules, law, economy and environment.

The charity – which came under fire for a cuts and closures programme last year as Covid cost it ticket and cafe sales – says the pandemic has shown why this is important, particularly in urban areas.

It wants opportunities for active travel to be built into the fabric of our towns and villages.

The development of eco-corridors and networks has been integrated into Denmark’s planning approach for years. The move prevents the segmentation of green and wild sites to allow species to move around to protect and even improve the spread and populations of native wildlife.

“More and better interconnected nature” was listed as a priority in 2014 and the Danish Nature Policy set out plans to establish 25,300 hectares of “nature” across the country by designating more areas for recreation, restoring wetlands and other measures.

A “green map” of the country was commissioned to provide coherence in planning decisions, showing the valuable natural sites currently in place and allowing the identification of places that could be opened up to create connections between them.

Hearns said it is currently “quite hard to refuse a housing estate” in Scotland on ecological grounds. He said: “It helps the authorities if there is a national plan that they can use to inform these decisions.

“Species lack resilience when they are not able to move around. By connecting green spaces, the whole of nature becomes more resilient.

“They don’t even have to be right next to each other. Bird life will happily hop from site to site as long as they are close enough.”