Cairngorm ski resort to remain closed until further notice
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Cairngorm Mountain and the ski road beyond Glenmore will remain shut until further notice after Scotland entered the new lockdown, resort bosses have confirmed.
They have said they do not want to keep the ski slopes closed for any longer than necessary especially with good persistent snow falling at the ski centre since just before Christmas.
Susan Smith, interim chief executive of Cairngorm Mountain (Scotland) Ltd said: "Due to the tougher restrictions issued by the First Minister the resort and ski road will remain closed until further notice.
"This is an unfortunate start to the season which has seen consistent snow fall across the mountain at the end of December and into the new year.
"The CMSL board do not want to keep the resort closed any longer than is necessary and we will monitor the situation in line with the Scottish Government review of the current measures at the end of January 2021.
"For our loyal season pass holders, we fully understand the position this has put them in.
"We will review our policy on season pass refunds as soon as the picture is clearer on when we may be able to reopen the resort.
"Rest assured that as soon as we have clarity on the closure period all current season pass holders will be notified of our refund policy.
"We ask them for their patience during this challenging time.
"There may yet be a good snow sports season ahead but for now, stay safe and we look forward to the day we can welcome everyone back to Cairngorm Mountain."
There has been criticism of the closure of the Cairngorm ski road beyond the Glenmore snow gates with claims that it might not be legal under access rights.
The gates were locked on Christmas eve meaning that two popular car parks are out of bounds.
A spokesman for ParkswatchScotland said: "This decision, which was apparently made by its board in consultation with the police and Highland Council is almost certainly unlawful.
"The road up to the Coire Cas car park is a public road and, under the Road Traffic Acts, Highland Council, as the public roads authority, has a duty to 'manage and maintain all such roads in their area'.
"This generally means keeping them open to the public except in specific circumstances."
There is a provision in the Road Traffic Act 1984 for the police to close snow gates when snow makes the road unsafe for traffic.
However, the spokesman said: "The statement from CMSL’s management makes it clear that snow is not the reason why the gates have been locked...
"CMSL have locked the snow gates to prevent people living within Highland region from exercising their access rights.
"CMSL may have the right to close what remains of the lift system at Cairn Gorm to protect its staff but it has no legal right to stop other people from enjoying the mountain for other forms of outdoor recreation.
"Unfortunately in Scotland there are almost no safeguards to prevent organisations abusing their power in this way and very few lawyers prepared to take up such cases."
But Ms Smith responded: "The reason the road is closed is due to public safety, first and foremost. We have a skeleton crew working on the mountain which means that the road would not be cleared as regularly as when we have a full crew.
"If the road was open then it would almost certainly in snow conditions have led to incidents as we have seen all too often with cars getting stuck on the road due to snow.
"If, for any reason, the road was not clear and mountain rescue was required and it couldn’t access the site due to cars being stuck on the road then this would present a very challenging situation."