Last year, CairnGorm Mountain Ltd was granted permission by Scottish Natural Heritage and the Highland Council (THC) to allow limited numbers of funicular passengers to exit the Ptarmigan Top Station as part of a programme of carefully managed guided walks to Cairngorm summit during the summer months. This followed years of sniping by politicians, journalists and other supporters of the funicular at the principle of a closed station at the top of the funicular route. Our readers will remember that the closed access principle was the means by which SNH was persuaded to withdraw its opposition to the building of the funicular and that it was designed to limit access to the sensitive and protected landscapes of the Cairngorm plateau.
Following on from last years experience, SNH has again granted permission for funicular passengers to participate in guided walks between May and October of this year. The Walk @ The Top, as CairnGorm Mountain Ltd has labeled the scheme, is a 90-minute guided walk for groups of up to ten people at a time on a two-mile route, which ascends 148 metres to Cairngorm summit.
Last years petition on hill tracks, organized by the Mountaineering Council of Scotland and sponsored by MSPs Peter Peacock and Sarah Boyack, succeeded in having the issue debated in the Scottish Parliament last summer. The then Minister, (Stewart Stevenson) responded, disappointingly, that he would consider the issue as part of an overall review of the General Permitted Development Order, which allows the construction of such tracks without the need for planning permission. At the time, this seemed to be simply a device for kicking the issue into touch. However, the Scottish Government has now announced a public consultation to review the wider GPDO with a closing date of 1st July.
NEMT will be responding in detail and we invite readers to visit website: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/topics/built-environment/planning/news and, if possible, submit their own views. The more of us who comment, the more likely we are to be able to change this piece of legislation and establish proper controls for these often destructive developments.
Researchers from the University of Bristol have found European Meadow Ticks in South-East England and West Wales following a research programme carried out through veterinary practices. 173 practices checked over 3,500 dogs and sent any ticks they found for identification. Five meadow ticks were identified and the study also found that 15% of dogs carried ticks at any one time during the summer.
The European tick (Dermacentor reticulates) is known to carry infections which do not currently occur in the British Isles, tick-borne encephalitis in particular. The researchers believe that a changing climate and "increased global movement of people and companion animals" have helped the ticks to spread. Ixodes ricinus (the sheep tick) is also known to have shifted northwards in continental Europe in the past few decades and has been found at higher altitudes than previously.
Coincidentally, 11 - 17 April is Tick Bite Prevention Week. An estimated 3,000 people a year in the UK contract Lyme Disease (Borreliosis) from a tick bite every year. Walkers are particularly at risk. Removal of ticks within 24-48 hours of the parasite attaching itself greatly reduces the risk of infection developing so checking the body after being out in the countryside, or even in the garden, and carefully removing any ticks with fine-tipped tweezers or a tick-removal tool is essential. More detailed information can be found at: http://www.tickbitepreventionweek.org/index.html.
Last month, Highland Council granted approval for the building of a 19-turbine windfarm at Corriemoillie, near Garve in Ross-shire. The Corriemoillie windfarm will involve turbines of around 410ft in height. It will be immediately adjacent to the existing 17-turbine Lochluichart windfarm, with which it will share access. More than 500 letters of objection to the plan were submitted, and yesterday a number of objectors voiced their concerns at the hearing. Objections centred round concerns over impact on the visual landscape, protected species, and tourism. Following the vote by members of the Ross, Skye and Lochaber planning applications committee, objectors said they felt "let down" by the outcome.
Editors Note: A copy of the Stop Corriemoillie Group's letters is included in our "WIND FARMS - blowing in the wind" article in this issue.
On April 1st (no jokes please) the South Downs National Park Authority began full operation. The Park covers 627 metres of Sussex and Hampshire countryside and England's newest National Park Authority will be responsible for all planning within the area. The area covered stretches from Winchester in Hampshire to Eastbourne in East Sussex. It includes woodland, heathland, downlands and the white chalk cliffs at Beachy Head. It is more than 10 years since the government first announced that it proposed to designate the area. The landscape of the South Downs is said to have remained untouched for hundreds of years and the area's agricultural heritage has been preserved in music and song. The opening of the park was celebrated by the ringing of church bells across the park area, by handbells, a children's choir in Petersfield and by morris dancing at Beachy Head - not too close to the edge.
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