The Case of the Old Military Road at Corgaff

NEMT included an article on The Old Military Road at Corgaff in Mountain Views of Autumn 2003. NEMT is disappointed to report that promises, agreements and conditions imposed at that time have not been kept and now, 4 years later, the situation is in stalemate.

In 2003, Aberdeenshire Council reneged on their original requirement that retrospective planning permission was applied for, for the work the estate had carried out to upgrade this road. In its place a 'gentleman’s agreement' was drawn up to reinstate the road in accordance with the prescription provided by Dr Adam Watson and Sandy Walker. In the words of Andrew Thin, the then Convenor of the Cairngorms National Park Authority, CNPA was satisfied that the "remedial works.should achieve the same end results as that of undergoing a retrospective planning application or enforcement action."

Despite the agreement the estate did nothing and 2003 dragged on. More letters were written and there was not much sign of action. In the late summer of 2004, too late for even the following growing season, a digger appeared and began to remove some of the debris and soil and deposit it in one of the borrow pits. Some stones were collected from the road-side and placed on top of the soil, not beneath as originally advised.

At the end of July 2006 a party of 18 consisting of NEMT, three residents from Strathdon, two staff members, one each from SNH and CNPA, and a member of Badenoch and Strathspey Conservation Group met on the road along with Dr Adam Watson and Sandy Walker. This was truly an educational experience, and confirmed the partial nature of the reinstatement process that had been carried out – thus contravening the terms of the alternative agreement as detailed above. Sandy Walker explained to us all, about the critical role of the “iron pan” which can protect the soil from underneath becoming saturated in water – a photograph of this was included in our Autumn / Winter 2006 Mountain Views.

Now, in 2007, the Council planning department has decided to make a site visit, and it is known that representatives of SNH and CNP are to be invited, along with Sandy Walker and Dr Adam Watson in their role as independent technical advisors. Meanwhile there continues to be strewn boulders, steeply sloped slipping banks and boulders sitting on topsoil or vegetation. There is without doubt, work needing to be done to meet the terms of the agreement and so stabilise the flora and improved the landscape for walkers and visitors alike. Given the historical importance of the route, the £ 240,000 spent on maintaining the old bridges, and the fact that this road is within the Cairngorms National Park, NEMT strongly believes that this works should still be undertaken.

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