In the last Newsletter, we set out our draft NEMT Strategic Plan. After a series of drafts and redrafts together with discussions in the General Council, we have at last finalised it. We are now taking the unusual step of reproducing it all in this edition of Mountain Views.
Whilst your views and comments are still very welcome (you may, for example, have some suggestions for us on how to successfully implement it!) we don't expect to be making further changes this year. We do, however, plan to update the document annually.
As mentioned in our last Newsletter, and as detailed further on, we will be looking for funding for one, or maybe two, people to work part-time and progress the activities outlined in the plan. This is a significant step for NEMT and we will be in contact again before deciding how and who to approach.
After taking advice, we have decided to not go down the route of employing somebody. Instead, we now propose to parcel the work into discreet packages and engage people to provide these specific services. This type of arrangement has worked very well with the hilltracks and digitizing of old maps projects. Clearly, it avoids the complications of employing somebody. If we are successful, this will lead to a step change in what NEMT can achieve.
"Land and wildlife have their own being in their own right. Our recreation is an incidental gain, not an end in itself to be profitably pursued by exploiting land where that means degrading it. The human privilege is to take decisions for more than our own good; our reward is that it turns out to be the best for us too." W.H. Murray1
North East Mountain Trust [NEMT] grew out of a national campaign in the late 1970s, organised by local climbers, to oppose the creation of a super quarry at Longhaven, south of Peterhead. The aims of the Trust are to protect wild land and remote coastal areas with a particular focus on the North East of Scotland. It seeks to achieve this by involving and mobilising local climbers and walkers in both clubs and as individuals. This regional context is important as it enables direct contact with the membership; a much closer relationship than can be achieved by the national bodies outwith their core group of activists.
Mountain and wild land protection has changed dramatically since that major crusade thirty years ago. Voluntary bodies, such as the John Muir Trust and the Cairngorms Campaign, have emerged. Country wide activity is co-ordinated through organisations such as Scottish Environment Link and the Mountaineering Council of Scotland [MCofS]. National Parks have become a reality. In this evolving landscape, the Trust intends to strengthen its commitment to address issues facing the North East. The Trust considers that matters impacting on the whole country are best left to national bodies such as the John Muir Trust or the Mountaineering Council of Scotland. However, despite being regionally focussed, NEMT seeks to take lessons from its work at the more local level and apply them nationally. An example of this is that NEMT's work on hill tracks within the National Park and in the Angus glens has been used to help guide the MCofS petition which aims to strengthen the law.
Whilst there is now greater awareness of the importance of the environment to human well-being, and much has been done to raise public awareness of the need to care for natural assets, new pressures are continually emerging. These include the haphazard and often illegal bulldozing of poorly constructed tracks, dilemmas over the best ways to develop renewable energy and the need to ensure that recreational activities in wild land do not erode its unique qualities. Within the membership of NEMT there is a wide range of expertise regarding conservation and related matters, but everyone involved is a volunteer.
This compromises the ability of the organisation to engage fully with some issues and follow others through as effectively as is needed. It also means that the skills and knowledge within the membership and its links with related organisations are not harnessed as effectively as they could be.
Now is an especially important time. Developments to facilitate game bird shooting and the arrival of wind farms are significantly reducing the areas of land which can be considered to be truly wild. Such changes are backed by considerable financial resources. NEMT believes that it should not oppose all such developments but should work with a range of partners to ensure that any proposals are appropriate to their settings, comply with the law and, if approved, are implemented sensitively. Engaging the public and politicians of all parties in the debate regarding how to protect the natural heritage of the North East is critical at this time. Utilising the expertise and energy of its member clubs in this debate more effectively is central to NEMT's strategy.
It is because of the need to increase capacity and mobilise support in order to engage effectively with this range of issues that this Strategic Plan includes proposals to seek funding for project development time.
The following are just some of the actions undertaken by NEMT:
1.1 In 1980, the campaign to prevent a super quarry at Longhaven was successful. Such a development would have destroyed an important climbing ground and, more importantly, damaged a dramatic and beautiful stretch of coast along with nesting grounds for a variety of seabirds. The coastal strip, now owned by the Scottish Wildlife Trust, is protected for ever.
1.2 NEMT played a central role in preventing the extension of mechanised skiing, with an attendant road, into Lurcher's Gully in 1980s, thus averting urbanisation of Cairngorms Northern Corries.
1.3 In 1987, NEMT was involved in founding Scottish Environmental Link, the national umbrella body representing conservation and green interests.
1.4 Over the past ten years, NEMT has given priority to preventing the illegal bulldozing of hill tracks in the Cairngorms and surrounding area. The Trust has given evidence to public enquires and worked to ensure that legally required remedial work is carried out. The Trust has undertaken the mapping of all hill tracks in one part of the Cairngorms, a project it intends to extend to the whole area. NEMT is actively participating in the current campaign by the Mountaineering Council of Scotland and two MSPs to change the law to remove the ambiguity regarding whether hill tracks require planning consent.
1.5 NEMT is supporting the maintenance of paths in the hills where erosion is causing unsightly damage. NEMT is working with the Cairngorms Outdoor Access Trust [COAT] to engage volunteers from local climbing and walking clubs to work on its Adopt-A-Path scheme.
1.6 The Trust publicises issues related to wildlife crime and how to respond to this and the risks associated with ticks.
1.7 NEMT continues to respond to public consultations on developments, legislation and proposals by the Cairngorms National Park.
1.8 The Trust strongly supports the development of renewable energy but not where this intrudes into wild areas. To this end, the Trust opposed the Beauly-Denny power line and the Pressendye proposals.
1.9 The Trust has sought to stimulate debate and keep its membership and other interested parties informed of developments via the Mountain Views magazine and the winter lectures programme.
NEMT is a voluntary body registered with Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator. It is a membership organisation which represents around 800 people through individual and club membership, the latter involving eight major climbing and hillwalking groups in the North East. With affiliated and reciprocal arrangements with seven other local and national bodies which share its aims, it acts on behalf of nearly 20,000 people. The Trust is managed by a General Council which includes representatives of member clubs. (See Appendix 1 for General Council). No member of the Council benefits in any way from NEMT activities. (See Appendix 2 for NEMT's Consitution.)
NEMT raises funds primarily from membership fees, lectures and the sale of some merchandise. These funds cover the administration of campaigning work and the lectures along with the production of Mountain Views magazine. Turnover in 2009 was around £3,000. The Trust has also received small one off grants for particular activities.
NEMT seeks to represent the concerns of all those who enjoy low impact activities in remote and wild landscapes. This includes ramblers, hill walkers, mountaineers, bird watchers, naturalists, off-piste skiers, study groups and the large numbers of the general public who enjoy spectacular, unspoilt scenery. Wild land benefits both their physical and spiritual well being. These groups of people visit and stay in the communities which act as gateways to such areas. By doing this, they bring significant financial benefit and employment to places across the Highlands where other economic activity may be less strong.2
NEMT either directly represents, or works closely with, the following:
Whilst the organisations listed above all have interests in wild land, NEMT's remit of working with local club members and individuals on the uplands and the coastal fringes of the North East of Scotland is unique. This plan fully reflects the priorities of the NEMT's membership and related organisations, both of which were consulted about the Trust's future direction prior to its preparation.
Scotland is renowned for its wild landscapes which draw visitors from across the world. Despite this, and the pleasure that wild land brings to large numbers of people, such areas remain under threat through a lack of understanding of their qualities and because of developments inimical to their preservation. In order to address these problems, The Trust will work with local club members and individuals to:
5.1 Hill tracks
5.2 Paths in Cairngorms and remote coastal areas
5.3 Conservation and access issues
For a small organisation serviced entirely by volunteers, NEMT has a lengthy track record to be proud of. This Strategic Plan, which follows a consultation on future priorities undertaken with members and other interested parties, builds on that record. Growing awareness of the shrinking number of Scotland's wild places and their fragility makes this an opportune time to increase engagement. A lack of capacity, however, inhibits The Trust's ability to both follow through some current activities as quickly and as effectively as it would like and to engage more fully in other activities within its remit. It also restricts The Trust's ability to utilise fully the expertise and enthusiasm of its members and other interested parties in both campaigning work and practical activities. For these reasons, the Trust considers that seeking funding for time to be put into further project development is a priority. Taking forward all the activities and providing all the services outlined in this plan is dependent on successfully obtaining such funding.
(See Appendix 3 for SWOT Analysis and Appendix 4 for Project Development Proposal).
In the first instance, NEMT is seeking funding for development time from a variety of sources. If successful, this will allow its range of activities to increase and it ability to respond to be taken to a new level. The Trust will need to ensure that these gains can be maintained in the long term. The Trust's General Council considers that seeking a package of funding from a variety of sources supports sustainability which will be a priority over the period covered by the strategic plan.
^1. MURRAY, W.H., 2002. The Evidence of Things Not Seen: a Mountaineer's Tale. London: Baton Wicks.
^2. HIGHLANDS and ISLANDS ENTERPRISE, 1996. The Economic Impact of Hill Walking, Mountaineering and Associated Activities in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. Inverness: HIE.
Membership of General Council
David Windle, Chair
George Allan, Deputy Chair
Catherine Lacy, Minutes Secretary
Gordon Strachan, Treasurer
Liz Lindsey, Membership Secretary
Brian Heaton, Lectures Organiser
Alistair Beeley, LINK Rep
Jennifer Cook, Ex Officio/Newsletter
Maureen Stuchbury, Ex Officio
Donald Thomas, Ex Officio
Duncan Blake, Aberdeen Mountaineering Club
Heather Eddie, Aberdeen Telephones Hillwalking Club
Hamish Clunas, Aberdeen Hillwalking Club
John Hughes, BOOTS (Old Meldrum Hillwalkers)
Alec MacMillan, Cairngorm Club
Alan Murray, Ellon Hillwalking Club
Kris Howard, Granite City Hillwalkers
Alaistair Beeley, Stonehaven Mountaineering & Hillwalking Club
Robert Seivwright, Turriff Hillwalking & Mountaineering Club
Alison Sutherland, Bailies of Bennachie
Alison Mitchell, Ramblers Association
Ursula Ryalls, Scotways
Peter Galloway, Aberdeen & St. John Mountain Rescue Assoc.
Tessa Jones, Badenoch & Strathspey Conservation Group
Drennan Watson, Cairgorms Campaign
Kenny Freeman, Mountain Bothies Association
NEMT Constitution - available on website
Project Development Proposal
NEMT considers than the most flexible and cost effective way of improving its ability to respond to specific issues and utilise more fully the talents and energy with its membership is to have the resources to engage suitable individuals to undertake specific tasks. It is proposed that such individuals be engaged either on a self employed basis or through an appropriate agency and be contracted either on an hourly rate or on the basis of delivery of a specific piece of work. Such arrangements avoid the potential complications which can arise for a small organisation employing staff in a difficult financial climate and allow resources to be focused on the completion of specific tasks within the strategic plan.
Payment for project development time has been calculated at £160 per day except for work on the technical aspects of the hill tracks project which have been set at £200 per day. A 10% management fee has been added to all costings to cover agency payment arrangements.
Years one and two = £4760 + 10% = £5236
Year three £5640 + 10% = £6204
Years one, two and three = £1840 + 10% = £2024
Year one = £1600 + 10% = £1760
Years one, two and three = £1200 + 10% = £1320
Year one = £1600 plus 10% = £1760
Years one, two and three = £640 + 10% = £704
Year One = £12,800
Year Two = £9,300
Year Three = £10,300
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