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CAIRNGORMS CAMPAIGN SEMINAR: DEFINING THE FUTURE DIRECTION

29-09-2005

Prior to the AGM of October 2004, members of the Campaign held a seminar on what they felt should be the future of the Cairngorms, to help give the efforts of the campaign direction. Below is the result of the seminar. Note that these results are simply the preliminary reactions of members and need further research to confirm the extent to which the concerns and statements are fully justified.

Session 1: What is the current situation within the Cairngorm Area, the state of the resource and trends?

Woodlands and forestry

  Degradation of native woodland continues

  Mature forests - little influence on forestry policy and management within CNPA

  Some good changes: exemplars Mar & Abernethy

  CC needs to review status across area and inform others and members

Local Carrying Capacity

  Insufficient action and direction from National Park Board to fulfil the natural and cultural heritage objectives of the CNPA

  Windfarms: significant potential adverse impact for little contribution to national energy demand

  Water Abstraction: Glen & Loch Einich - needs clarity on current situation.

  Housing development threatens natural resource base - lack of policy

  Run-of-the-river hydroschemes can be locally damaging - lack of clear information of local impact

  Alcan abstraction impacting whole Spey catchment from generation for electricity - not aluminium smelting - taking advantage of current subsidised electricity price. Need to limit abstraction

  Local carrying capacity being exceeded in terms of drinking water provision, sewerage and local green space

 

Planning and National Park Authority

  The present planning arrangements are failing the stated objectives of the National Park

  Lack of international (and national) involvement in the consultation processes adopted by the NPA.

  Inaccurate information published by the National Park Authority

  National Park Board

  Supports funicular!

  Pro-development irrespective of status of natural heritage

  Emphasis on economic and social development apparently at the expense of other (natural heritage) objectives

  Over development of mechanised recreational development at the expense of the environment

  Lack of unified NP Ranger Service

  Dispute over Park Boundaries

  Need to lobby minister (just changed to Lewis MacDonald so fresh opportunity)

  Wrong - inconsistent boundaries. Unsatisfactory for the protection and management of the core area of the national park (my aside - core area not defined, but assumed!!)

  Increase use of petition system in Scottish Parliament

  Bring case for private members bill

  Over provision of housing (second homes & holiday accommodation)

  Lack of discipline and overspend on offices

Funicular

  Wider ski area untidy and littered with skiing debris

  Is Cairngorm Mountain Limited illegally allowed to trade whilst insolvent. (Note:- It was later clarified this was not the case)

  It was thought total subsidy and state support exceeded by further 5 million - this needs to be clarified and if so, questions need to be posed to public accounts & audit commission

Archaeology

  Represents past activity and roots of the culture

  Not featured in plans and policies

 

Sporting Estates and Access

  Large expansion of land rover tracks & increasing devastation in widening existing tracks - recognition that a lot of money has been spent on this and not on conservation management of estates

  Quad bikes & off- roading both by estates and informally is threat to integrity of area and disturbs wildlife and other recreational users

(Came to our my notice that in September 2004 more than 20 motor trail bikers went through Corrie Yarrich and spent night at Laggan Pottery Bunkhouse!)

  Mountain bikers should be required to fit and use bells when approaching walkers from behind!

  Shooting/stalking is actively an adverse influence on access. Sport shooting needs to be licensed and reformed to be more effective in terms of deer management, especially as it so seldom contributes to estate and community economic well-being.

  State of resource: southern and Deeside area is better than northern area - yet outwith National Park Boundary. Contrast Rothiemurchus forestry proposals (seen as move to muscle subsidy out of system) with NTS management plans. GlenFeshie poor state of management is seen as "sad" and indictment of past decision maker is that the land was not taken into conservation management (irrelevant whether state or NGO).

  Stalking is highly developed with high environmental impact with tracks and concentration on stags and access tracks - imperative to move to lower impact "hunting" approach and organised cull.

  Deer Commission

  to be applauded on exercising powers - need to manage PR.

  Need to set standards for cull & techniques

  Stag (deer) numbers need to be decoupled from estate capital value of land

Session 2 : What the Cairngorms should be like in 20 years?

Standards of Management

  World Heritage Status for natural heritage interest.

  Very competent and comprehensive National Park Plan and planning process that conforms to international standards, EU legislation:

with the Cairngorms Campaign scrutinising and contributing to the process.

  National Park has achieved international recognition for the quality of its conservation management.

  Restored Cairn Gorm with ski area within the European sites

  Moved to effective zoning (IUCN category II?) within a comprehensive land use planning system (compared with current development control process). "National Park should be able to lead the way".

  The National Park has established wildland areas and is managing them to established best practice guidelines.

  Park boundaries to be coherent based on natural criteria not political criteria

  Planning powers to be granted to CNPA

Forests

  Unification of Speyside & Deeside Forests

  Enhancement of native forests without deer fencing

  All existing native woodlands are regenerating and expanding without deer fences

Deer and Sporting Estates

  Any sport\shooting meeting best management guidelines for the environment.

  Deer

  Open reporting of numbers and habitat monitoring

  Well established strategy based on ecological principles

  Deer Commission encouraged and supported to exercise full range their powers.

  Use of best practice guidelines to manage shooting based on state of habitat and condition of animals

  Hunting of deer by licence administered by Cairngorm National Park Authority

  Effective deer control mechanisms in place

  Cairngorms Campaign scrutinising and asking salient questions.

 

  Sheep

  CAP reform to have had a beneficial effect on Cairngorms area by removing emphasis on intense stocking.

  Previous subsidy redirected to rural employment ( such as shepherding, traditional skills)

 

Birdlife

  Healthy populations of top predators and prey

  all flourishing

  Farmland birds (eg waders)

  Birds of prey

  Woodland grouse

  Mountain top birds

  Cross-bills and crested tits

 

Access and tracks

  Access legislation implemented and not inhibiting recreational opportunities

  Access points to National Park are already established (2004), but in the future these are managed using "soft" management techniques recognising the importance of tourism to the local and Highland economy.

  Full range of suitable accommodation in the settlement zones incorporating bunk houses to guesthouses with recreation friendly services

  Visitors are encouraged to get out of their cars!

  Network of paths in forests and straths. Path surfaces to be low tech, using hard techniques only to address localised problems.

  Range of landscapes from wildness (no cairns , tracks, signs) to managed landscapes, each having its place and value.

  Access points managed by parking, bus services etc and sized to suit sensitivity/"carrying capacity"/fragility of area being accessed.

  Reduced and reinstated vehicular tracks in Cairngorms area (montane and wild land zones).

  No artificial access to the tops ie montane and fragile zones

 

Sustainable Transport

  Fewer cars and lorries within and around the National Park

  Measurably reduced emissions and pollution impacting on the National Park

  Improved and environmentally sound public transport serving the Cairngorms National Park

 

Ranger Service

  Integrated service, current concerns wrt coherency addressed.

  Coordinated and consistent, not dispersed as at present

3rd session : What should we do?

What roles should we adopt?

  Maintain and develop our role (position) with the public in view of the increase in public interest and use of the National Park

  Encourage everyone to appreciate and conserve the beauty, character, natural & cultural heritage of the area

  Maintain critical overview of the National Park Authority processes

 

What actions should we take?

  We should broaden our support base

  Stimulate public interest in the Cairngorms area as a National Park

  Provide transport information & make web site point of information

  Website : improve what exists

  Focus on deer

  Funicular - ask HBOS customers & shareholders to ask questions re interest rate and underwriting of Cairngorm Mountain Railway Company

  Work with other bodies who share our concerns

  Use petitioning process within Scottish Parliament wrt:-

  Boundaries

  Funicular funding

  Deer management

  Development on policies on forests, woodland, access, water, communities, transport

  Review and revise Manifesto ~ time for Manifesto III

  Find out and review relevant designations and legislation that apply to Cairngorm NP Area and ensure CNPB/A meet these standards

  Action on current and possible public funding for developments and actions in CNPA

  Focus on coherent Cairngorms area - not just NP Area

 Areas of debate to raise and focus on:-

 Value for public money

 Compare and contrast collection of best practice case studies

« back

And help us maintain the case for better management and appreciation of the Cairngorms.
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