Cairngorms National Park Plan Approved
In March, Scottish Minsters approved the Cairngorms National Park Plan which contains the Park Authority's long-term (25 years) vision and also the Priorities for Action for the next five years (2007-2012). The Plan was developed in consultation with the Park's partners in the public, private and voluntary sectors and a number of public consultation exercises were carried out to secure input from Park residents and other interested parties.
The Plan aims to protect and enhance the Park and its habitats as well as improving access to the outdoors, housing and tourism. Copies of the Plan should be available online from http://www.cairngorms.co.uk or can be obtained in print from the CNPA, 14 The Square, Grantown-on-Spey, Moray PH26 3HG.
CNP Boundary Bill
Not long before the Scottish Parliament broke up for the recent election, its Environment and Rural Development Committee met to consider the Member's Bill introduced by John Swinney, MSP for North Tayside. On behalf of NEMT Donald Thomas wrote to Clerk to Environment and Rural Development Committee of the Scottish Parliament to support this Bill. It proposed to redraw the boundaries of the Cairngorms National Park to include the Atholl hills and Glenshee from the Spittal to the Aberdeenshire boundary. (This was essentially the southern boundary proposed by Scottish Natural Heritage but rejected at the time by the Scottish Executive in favour of a Park which stopped at the Aberdeenshire boundary.)
In the event, the Committee acknowledged that a strong case had been made on geographical and geological grounds but voted, by 5 votes to 4, to leave the matter for the consideration of the quinquennial review of the Park Authority which is due next year while recommending that there should be extensive public consultation on the issue. Concerns have been expressed, however, that the boundary issue may not be a priority for a review which will have to examine many aspects of the Park's operation. Perhaps the newly-elected Parliament will prove to be more receptive to the idea of National Park boundaries being determined on ecological grounds.
Eden Project of the North?
Just before Christmas, the CairnGorm Mountain resort launched a plan for its long term sustainability which envisages the resort being less reliant on winter sports and becoming more of a centre for environmental awareness. Introducing the "Vision for Cairngorm", Chief Executive Bob Kinnaird said ""Our vision is to create, at CairnGorm Mountain, The National Centre for the Mountain Environment as the heart and icon of the Cairngorms National Park where there would be a facility offering an opportunity for visitors to learn to appreciate, understand and protect the mountains, and everything that they represent in human culture." With quality snow cover is becoming an increasing uncertain commodity, the resort aims to diversify into environmental education, creating facilities which will help visitirs to understand, appreciate and protect mountains. Mr Kinnaird went on to say that "Some have already gone so far as to describe it as being 'akin to an Eden Project of the North' but with the emphasis on mountains rather than on plants". Readers familiar with Cornwall's Eden Project will recall that it was constructed on the site of a disused and derelict china clay pit.
Kinfauns Castle Access Case
In our last issue, we reported on the court case in which Stagecoach founder Anne Gloag applied for permission to bypass the access provisions of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act for part of her Kinfauns Castle estate, near Perth. Mrs Gloag's move is being opposed by the Ramblers' Association Scotland and Perth & Kinross Council who are arguing that the seven-foot fence which she has already erected contravenes the Act and that she should not be exempt from its provisions. The Ramblers' Association sees this as a crucial test case and has launched an appeal for a fighting fund to help meet the high legal cost of this case and of others which they anticipate landowners bringing in the future.
UPDATE: At the time of going to press, Mrs Gloag won her case granting her exemption from the Land Reform Law and allowing here to keep her 12 acre estate out of bounds to hill-walkers and behind an 11ft fence she had had erected without planning permission. This ruling, will undoubtedly be challenged.
Will Campbell, May 2007
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