REACTION: Cairngorm Mountain investment welcomed by leading Highlands politicians
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The repair of the Cairngorm Mountain railway and additional spending on the resort will bring a massive boost for the strath, Highland Council's convener has said.
Councillor Bill Lobban hailed the £20m plus investment just announced as a new beginning for the local economy, especially in such a tough business climate due to Covid-19.
Councillor Lobban, local member for Badenoch and Strathspey (Independent), told the Strathy: “This is fantastic news for Cairngorm Mountain and the whole area and it justifies the huge amount of time an effort that Cairngorm Mountain (Scotland) Ltd and HIE staff have devoted to keeping the business afloat since we took over from the previous operators.
"Scottish Government and HIE should be complimented on making this what will have been I am sure a difficult decision but which will be a massive boost for the economy of Aviemore, Badenoch and Strathspey and the whole of Scotland.
"I would also like to add my personal thanks to our local MSPs Kate Forbes and most especially Fergus Ewing who have supported CMSL and our workforce all the way through these difficult times.
"This is a new beginning for our local economy and will give other business operators the confidence to invest for the future in their own operation.”
Badenoch MSP Kate Forbes (SNP) has also welcomed the funding approval with more than £10m coming from the Scottish Government.
She said: “It is so important that Cairngorm Mountain drives ahead in ensuring it can welcome all visitors back.
“This coming winter in particular will be key as it is likely that Scottish ski resorts will be busier than ever if skiers choose to holiday at home rather than travel abroad due to the pandemic.
“This investment enables the Mountain to continue to invest in infrastructure and facilities.
"This decision was always going to be challenging – weighing up multiple different options and balancing the cost of removing the infrastructure with the cost of fixing it.
“I realise there are many different views and opinions in the strath and beyond, but I hope we can all agree that we need to secure the mountain’s future.”
Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Rhoda Grant is also backing the Scottish Government’s decision to reinstate the funicular.
She said: “I agree that the move is good for the local economy, especially after the pandemic’s drastic effect on local businesses including those in the hospitality and tourism industry.
“Although this is light at the end of the tunnel for next winter, there are tough times ahead for everyone in Badenoch and Strathspey in the coming year.
“However, there are people in the community with creative and innovative ideas who have been pushing for a role in Cairngorm’s development and I still believe they should be allowed to step in with a project which would fill the gap between work starting on the funicular and its completion.”
Initial work to strengthen the two kilometre viaduct which carries the funicular is now expected to start later this month.
The £20m mountain railway stopped running in September 2018 after concerns about the integrity of the concrete pillars and the bearings holding the track.
A short time later the then operator Cairngorm Mountain – owned by Natural Retreats – went into administration. The company was bought in December of that year by HIE who now operate the business under Cairngorm Mountain (Scotland) Ltd.