Construction works on essential road safety parking areas at Glenmore have been paused whilst partner agencies ensure all environmental impact concerns have been mitigated, the Highland Council has announced.
The growing popularity of Glenmore and Loch Morlich as a leisure and recreation destination has brought increased pressure on local infrastructure.
Partners involved in the Glenmore Parking Project were keen to address the safety and traffic pressures in the area around Loch Morlich and Glenmore Lodge in advance of the busy tourist season.
Noting the importance, these essential works had been progressing, however, some issues have been identified relating to local environmental designations.
Enhanced road safety in the area is paramount, but partners agreed this should not be to the detriment of the environment. The pause on construction will allow all partners to fully address concerns in respect of ensuring that all necessary statutory consents are not only in place but that the conditions are also being met.
Colin Howell, head of roads and infrastructure, said: “Highland Council, Cairngorms National Park Authority and Forestry and Land Scotland are working together to address a very real pressure at this very popular tourist destination, to try and have measures in place before the peak of the tourist season works were progressed.
“We are constantly monitoring our processes and will always listen to concerns from anyone regarding the work we do, at any stage.”
He added: “It is clear that there are some environmental aspects due to the designations in the area which need further consideration.
“We have suspended the works and will undertake studies and evaluations to establish and implement remedial works as we plan for the future.”
It has been agreed that Forestry and Land Scotland will take the lead in initially undertaking a rapid review of the works undertaken to date. It will then determine, in conjunction with the Glenmore Parking Project partners, the appropriate immediate measures which need to be taken.
Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) will then consider all local issues along the Glenmore corridor to establish a co-ordinated plan. Only thereafter can the appropriate measures be identified to address and adhere to the required environmental evaluations and consents.
Murray Ferguson, director of planning & place at the Cairngorms National Park Authority, said: “Loch Morlich and Glenmore are extremely popular areas with visitors and the issue of car parking is one that needs to be addressed as soon as possible, which is why we are working with all those involved to ensure a positive outcome that takes full consideration of the environment we strive to protect. “
The Glenmore Recreation Site Plan has been developed by FLS in response to and informed by the Cairngorm Glenmore Strategy as a means of delivering its vision within the Glenmore corridor.
It is a spatial strategy that establishes priorities and a structure for future management, development and investment in visitor facilities in the Glenmore area.
The plan’s focus is improvements to the recreation infrastructure within the areas of Glenmore managed by FLS. The aim of proposed changes is to deliver facilities and experiences that satisfy the needs and expectations of the vast majority of its visitors within the immediate Glenmore village and Loch Morlich area, and as a result, relieve pressure on the wider designated forest area.
A spokesperson for Forestry and Land Scotland, said: “Cairngorms and Glenmore is of prime importance for environmental conservation, with a concentration of national and international designations for habitat and species protection.
“Whilst road safety is an important concern for the partnership, so too is the potential for increased disturbance by growing numbers of visitors across the Glenmore area. This could present a potential threat to the survival of iconic species such as the capercaillie within the area. “