No protected status for Mormond Hill

Mormond Hill
Mormond Hill

Mormond Hill near Strichen, which boasts the area’s famous white horse, has failed to gain protected status from Aberdeenshire Council.

At a meeting of the council’s policy and resources committee on Thursday, members had been asked to decide whether or not to award Special Landscape Status to the local landmark, thus preventing it from being the subject of housing or commercial development in the future.

In a report to Thursday’s meeting, it stated that designation of Mormond Hill would recognise the relative local prominence of the hill, with its masts is identified as one of very few landmark features in the area, whil ethe hill figures and the song’ Mormond Braes’ are also recognised.

As well as the white horse, the hill also has a stage carved into its east side, reportedly created in 1870 in honour of the wedding of the laird of Cortes House.

The horse and stage hill figures are unusual in Scotland and provide clearly visible links to the history of the area.

It also offers panoramic views available across Aberdeenshire, including to Bennachie.

However, Aberdeenshire Council planning chief, Robert Gray, said that including the landmark on the list could ‘dilute’ the protections offered to other areas.

“Mormond Hill keeps coming up - it’s very important culturally for the local area - but would you go there on holiday and take pictures?”

But Cllr Rob Merson said that it wasn’t just about culture.

“I think in terms of the white stag and the white horse there’s a strength of feeling,” he said.

And Councillor David Aitchison, chair of the committee, said that he hadn’t considered Mormond Hill at all until the paper was before him.

“I think we should be cognisant of the area committee’s views.

“That is why we put it out for comment.”

Members voted by eight to four against including Mormond Hill on the list of protected landscapes.