Caithness Map :: Links to Site Map Great value Unlimited Broadband from an award winning provider  


Update To Cairngorm Strategic Plan Is Published

3rd July 2019

Photograph of Update To Cairngorm Strategic Plan Is Published

The authors of far-reaching 2018 report on potential investment priorities at Cairngorm Mountain have reviewed and updated their findings.

US-based consultants SE Group were commissioned last year by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), owner of Cairngorm estate. Their brief was to study Cairngorm's potential as a premier Scottish ski centre and visitor attraction, and identify potential investments that would maximise its drawing power and contribution to the local economy.

In October 2018, however, as the report was being concluded, safety concerns raised in an engineers' inspection led to the Cairngorm funicular railway being taken out of service.

In light of this, SE Group were asked to review their findings and address immediate priorities for investment at Cairngorm while the funicular is not running.

Although the funicular presents no immediate danger to the public, investigations by specialist engineers have concluded that piers, beams and foundations all need to be strengthened, and new bearings installed, before it can run safely again.

HIE has consistently stated that its ambition is to repair the structure and return the mountain railway to service, which all investigations carried out so far indicate would be technically achievable.

A combination of public procurement regulations and extreme weather conditions over winter mean that the earliest a programme of repairs could begin would be spring or summer 2020. The funicular will therefore remain out of service over winter 2019-20.

While it is not running, snowsports access is planned to be maintained through a combination of artificial snow making at lower levels and ski tows to the higher runs.

SE Group’s new findings, published on the HIE website as an addendum to their original report, again focus on investments with the greatest potential impact to improve the visitor experience and generate more business.

Proposed enhancements would also aim to create a more efficient and economically viable operation capable of maintaining its popularity throughout the year.

Noting that the funicular has played a vital role in enabling all-season access to the mountain, they conclude that it can again become a central part of the visitor offering.

Proposals for winter include a new aerial chairlift featuring six-person lifts; enhanced snow making, and improvements to the terrain on the mountainside, including smoother runs and additional skiing routes. A ‘carpet conveyor’ would improve the beginner experience, and actions to improve the base area facilities and increase food options are also recommended.

Taken together, these improvements are designed to bring Cairngorm close to achieving its previous ski visitor numbers of around 130,000 a year.

Increasing the resort’s summer appeal is equally important. While the consultants remain convinced of the value of introducing a mountain coaster, they have reviewed the location and now recommend that the staging area is within the base area, improving ease of access for all visitors.

Opportunities for mountain biking should continue to be explored, the report says, while recognising the need for robust measures to protect the environment.

A welcoming base area is recommended, with improved food and drink offers, interpretative signage, and family activities that are sympathetic to the natural environment and the Cairngorm brand.

The two reports are expected to be influential in informing a masterplan for Cairngorm that HIE will lead on developing, with strong input invited from local people. Public consultation with partner organisations and communities in Badenoch and Strathspey is currently being planned, and statutory consents would also be required for any significant developments.

Douglas Cowan, director of communities and place with HIE, said: "Cairngorm is a key asset for Scotland, both environmentally and economically, and the funicular is a key asset for Cairngorm.

"It’s absolutely vital that we continue to address the serious challenges caused by the funicular being out of action and ensure that Cairngorm Mountain remains a significant driver of the local economy.

“HIE and the Scottish Government are agreed that repair is the preferred option in principle, though it’s important to stress that we need to conclude the engineers’ reviews and determine costs and funding sources before this can be approved.

“At the same time, we must continue to look to the long-term, and ensure that local people have a meaningful opportunity to put forward views that will inform a future masterplan that will shape our experience of Cairngorm for decades to come."

Susan Smith, interim chief executive of Cairngorm Mountain (Scotland) Ltd, said:

“This has been a difficult period for Cairngorm Mountain, but the staff remain absolutely dedicated to the mountain and the business, and are putting in a tremendous effort to create a brighter future.

“We very much welcome this update, which underlines both the fantastic potential of Cairngorm as a national asset and the importance of the funicular to a successful mountain resort.

“It is absolutely vital that we establish CMSL as a viable business, with strong growth potential and a key role in supporting the wider economy of Badenoch and Strathspey.

“With support from HIE, we are already implementing some of the original report’s recommendations, including improvements to facilities and activities at the base area, in ways that are in keeping with the mountain environment."

The SE Group’s Cairngorm Ski Area Feasibility Assessment and Strategic Plan and the new Addendum are on the HIE website -


Related Businesses


Related Articles

Wellness Tourism: A market you can't afford to miss!Thumbnail for article : Wellness Tourism:  A market you can't afford to miss!
Wellness Tourism is worth over £500bn worldwide, and has grown more than twice as fast as tourism overall.   Join us for the latest series of ‘TUNE INTO TOURISM', and explore how you can capitalise on this growing trend.  
£465k Digital And Innovation Support Programme Announced
Businesses in the Highlands and Islands looking to develop their use of digital technology and innovation are set to benefit from a new £465,000 support programme.   Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) announced the investment on Monday 30 September 2019 at a digital collaboration event to launch the refreshed #hellodigital facility in An Lochran, Inverness.  
EU delegation visit Highland social enterprises
Fourteen delegates from organisations across Europe that are tackling socio-economic challenges will visit the Highlands this week.   The visit is part of the next project meeting of the Support Network for Social Entrepreneurs (SuNSE) and will take place during 1-3 October in Inverness and Sutherland.  
Survey Finds Majority Of Highlands And Islands Businesses Use Fair Work Practices
The latest Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) Business Panel Survey published today (10 September) shows that 89% of companies across the region are offering benefits such as competitive levels of pay, training and skills development, flexible working and paying the living wage.   Over a thousand businesses across the region took part in the latest survey conducted between 10 June and 8 July.  
Public Invited To Share Views On Satellite Launch Site Proposals
Plans to create a spaceport that will launch communications satellites into orbit from the Moine peninsula in Sutherland are set to be unveiled for discussion at public meetings over the next two months.   Development agency Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), which is backing the £17.3m project to design and build Space Hub Sutherland, has today (Wednesday 4 September) lodged a proposal of application notice with the Highland Council.  
Social business programme launches across the Highlands and Islands
People with a business idea that will benefit their local community or environment will soon have access to a new programme of support, being launched across the Highlands and Islands.   Known as the Social Start-Up School, the innovative programme will be delivering four locally focused initiatives.  
HIE Sells Centre For Health Science In InvernessThumbnail for article : HIE Sells Centre For Health Science In Inverness
Highlands and Islands Enterprise has sold the to the University of the Highlands and Islands in a deal worth £9.83m.   Funded by a loan from Scottish Funding Council, the sale will consolidate and help further develop the university's School of Health, Social Care and Life Sciences.  
Lease option agreed for Space Hub Sutherland
The owners of land earmarked for the Space Hub Sutherland development on the Moine Peninsula have agreed a lease option with developer, Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).   Representatives of Melness Crofters Estate (MCE) and HIE signed the agreement yesterday (Wednesday 31 July).  
£3m For Scrabster Harbour ProjectThumbnail for article : £3m For Scrabster Harbour Project
The second phase in a major upgrade of Scrabster Harbour in Caithness has secured up to £3m investment from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).   The funding will enable the redevelopment of the existing St.  
New grants to support young entrepreneurs
Start-up businesses in the Outer Hebrides could receive a welcome injection of capital from a new joint initiative by Business Gateway Outer Hebrides and Highlands and Islands enterprise.   The Outer Hebrides Young Entrepreneur Start-Up Scheme (OHYESS), will provide grants of up to £2,500 to support entrepreneurs age 18-40 to set up businesses in key sectors across the Outer Hebrides.  

[Printer Friendly Version]