Cairngorms Liason Group

This group was set up by Drennan Watson of the Cairngorm Campaign under the auspices of Scottish Environment Link (LINK). Those involved include Ramblers, MCofS, Scottish Council for National Parks, RSPB, John Muir Trust and of course the Cairngorms Campaign who meet periodically to discuss and act on all matters relating to the Cairngorms area.

Agenda items for the last meeting, held on the 12th February 2008 at Link’s offices in Perth, included: Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) Local Plan; CNPA Access Strategy and Associated Work on Outdoor Access Events; CNPA Local Development Plan; CNPA general performance; National Park Boundary Update; NEMT Bulldozed Tracks; Beauly to Denny Powerline; Windfarms and the future of the Liaison Group itself.

Bill Wright formerly of the Campaign was also in attendance. Due to time constraints not all agenda items were dealt with and most of meeting was devoted to the CNPA Local Plan and associated items. The Cairngorms Campaign and NEMT had objected to the Plan on the basis of those aspects dealing with housing and bulldozed track. The Scottish Council for National Parks had objected on eight counts, but in particular those aspects dealing with housing, infrastructure and extraction of ground water. After some discussion it was agreed a joint letter be formulated by Drennan which all parties could use as a basis for their own further objection. With regard to access, the meeting felt there was no real recreational strategy to deal with large events on the hill such as sponsored walks etc. which inevitably impact on the ‘wild land’ nature of the area. Some concern was also expressed regarding the expansion of UDAT.

Rural housing continues to pose a huge problem with particular regard to land availability and the fact that, for example, 45% of houses in Nethybridge are second homes. Increased housing also has an obvious impact on water extraction with potential impact for Loch Einich.

There appeared to be no proper baseline by which the Park Authority could measure its performance and indeed, to date the meeting felt its performance had been disappointing. With a budget of £14m there should be some accountability and it was felt that, through LINK, a Parliamentary Question could be arranged, to be asked.

The meeting was advised it seemed likely that the park boundary would be extended as part of the Five Year Review.

The meeting was briefly updated with regard to the NEMT Bulldozed Track project. Those attending felt there was considerable merit in the project and that they would like the information emailed around the Link Member Bodies. There was also the scope to distribute more leaflets.

The Beauly to Denny Powerline enquiries were completed on 20th December 2007 and the Reporter could take until late 2008 with a decision in early 2009. There is a school of thought now that the existing infrastructure could manage without it subject to normal grid upgrades. Further on the subject of Windfarms the meeting felt there were just too many applications.

Alistair Beeley,
NEMT Representative

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