The Mountain Bothies Association's controversial plans to build a bothy on the site of the ruined Slugain Lodge appear to have been scrapped. The idea for the proposal to build the bothy was first mooted at an Eastern Highlands Area Committee meeting of the MBA at Tannadice in April 2001. The decision on the issue, however, was deferred until the October meeting of the committee at Charr bothy. At this meeting members raised concerns regarding the negative environmental and the visitor and visual impact such a project would have on the area. The meeting overwhelmingly rejected the proposal. Despite this the MBA Management Committee over-ruled the decision and pushed ahead with the plans. Worryingly the project appeared to be being progressed with little consultation with any other interested organisations. The issue came to a head at a well attended extra-ordinary meeting of the MBA in Blair Atholl in January 2002. Once again the proposal was rejected unanimously. It now looks as if the MBA have sensibly abandoned plans for this ill thought out project. Clearly the whole debacle has raised concerns for the MBA about the democracy and communication within the organisation. There is clearly a need for organisations like the MBA to consult fully with the wider mountaineering and environmental communities before going ahead with potentially controversial plans such as Slugain Bothy. Hopefully hard lessons will have been learned and the MBA can move forward.
The issue has also drawn attention to other developments in Glen Slugain in recent times. Two friends and I have noticed the estate road up the glen has been extended furthermore a new spur going north off the main glen road has been cut. We are currently trying to find out whether planning permission was required and if so was it sought. However it appears it may possible for estates to bulldoze new roads without the need for planning permission or to consult with others, this is of some concern.
It would be interesting to hear from others whether there are mechanisms for interested parties to become involved in discussions about developments such as hill roads. If there is no such mechanism could this debate be taken forward by the NEMT.
Editor's note: NEMT were invited to attend a meeting hosted by SNH to discuss this controversial issue in late January. This meeting was cancelled when MBA Management Committee advised they had dropped their proposals.
We would like to take this opportunity to apologise to both Kenny Ferguson and the Mountain Bothies Association for wrongfully entitling Kenny as a Maintenance Officer after the above write up on Slugain Bothy. As Jennifer Cook stated in her written apology to MBA "communication and making every attempt to sympathetically understand each other's point of view is the corner stone of building a better future for us all". This apology has been acknowledged and accepted by the MBA.
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