As detailed in our last issue, the Cairngorms Campaign wrote to the Scottish Executive to make the case for the transfer of ownership of the Highlands and Islands Enterprise Cairngorm Estate, to be taken in for a ministerial review. Whilst NEMT joined other NGOs supporting this, it fell upon deaf ears as we were told that the Scottish ministers could not intervene. What has now happened is that Cairngorm Mountain Ltd, SNH and CNPA have all "rejected or discounted ownership (of the estate) in favour of a transfer to Forestry Commission Scotland."
Given the political backdrop it is ironic that I find myself as never having been more challenged with my own time management than on reporting back on this particular (e)state of affairs. I am talking about a very demanding day job! The point is that most, if not all, of the NGO's robustly supported the setting up the Cairngorms National Park. Given their brief, is it surely a manifestation of how we are "going down the wrong driel" if now we find we have a Park Authority that does not want to grasp this golden opportunity to fulfil their terms and so embrace the opportunity to take on ownership of the estate. NEMT was told that Park Board Members were chosen, not for their skill and knowledge base, but for their ability to get on with one another and address the task set out for them. We were told that if "experts" were required they would be called in to advise as deemed appropriate. When you look at the breadth of knowledge of the applicants who were rejected, and set it against those who have now selected NOT to take on this not un-daunting challenge, then you can see why we fall well short of what could have been a far more promising prospect for the estate. That the NGO movement in Scotland has never having been so diverse and energised provides another manifestation of this situation.
Whilst not an efficient system for Scotland, ie many can see what is going wrong and have to try and put things right from the outside, this knowledge base has to find an outlet somehow! Thanks to the superb Landward series I was given the opportunity to bring a snippet of this to the attention of the viewers.
The decision (assuming that it is one) to transfer ownership to the Forestry Commission resulted in, guess what, a consultation on the transfer. Whilst it is notable that NEMT was not amongst the recorded list of Consultees of what is a reader friendly document, it is more a reflection of our own lack of resources that we did not succeed in offering a response by the closing date of the 15th November. The outcome of the Consultation is not known however the key points are as follows:
Meanwhile NEMT remains on the case and, as ever, welcomes all hill-walkers to come along and play an active part of what is going on here, and now!
Jennifer A Cook, Chairwoman
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