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MSP wants a public inquiry into running of Cairngorm Mountain

By Gavin Musgrove

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Edward Mountain.
Edward Mountain.

A Highlands MSP has renewed his call for a public inquiry into the running of Cairngorm Mountain.

Edward Mountain MSP (Scottish Conservative) recently met with the Auditor General of Scotland Stephen Boyle to raise his concerns about the ongoing challenges facing the resort.

The Highlands regional MSP is repeating his demand for a full public inquiry to determine where responsibility lies for the historic failings at the resort.

Mr Mountain said these include the structural problems which have led to the closure of the funicular railway since September 2018.

He said the mountain railway has also been beset with further challenges throughout 2021.

In August, resort owners Highlands and Islands Enterprise announced that the re-opening would be pushed back to the second half of 2022.

Then, the following month HIE indicated in a briefing to MPs and MSPs that the costs to repair the funicular railway would rise due to unforeseen construction challenges that only came to light as structures were uncovered for repair.

Stephen Boyle, Auditor General for Scotland.
Stephen Boyle, Auditor General for Scotland.

Mr Mountain has claimed that this could entail a 30 per cent increase from the original repair budget of £16m.

He said: “I was pleased to meet with the Auditor General for Scotland and raise my concerns with him about the historic failures which have held back the potential of the Cairngorm Mountain resort.

“I understand that Audit Scotland will continue to monitor HIE’s activities in relation to Cairngorm Mountain.

“It is vital for businesses and communities in Badenoch and Strathspey that the resort becomes a successful and profitable year-round visitor attraction.

“However, with the repair costs for the funicular railway set to rise substantially and the Snowfactory, only installed only two years ago, now having to be relocated uphill at great cost too, many will be left wondering when will this investment pay off.

“It is vital that investment secures the long-term future of the resort and costly mistakes are a thing of the past.

“I believe that lessons can only be learnt though if we have a full public inquiry and that is what I continue to campaign for.”

A spokesperson for HIE said: “Both Audit Scotland and the Scottish Government have already investigated HIE’s management of Cairngorm and the funicular and have published extensive reports.

"We are aware of Mr Mountain’s views, however, it is not up to HIE to say whether a further inquiry would be in the public interest.”

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