Cairn Gorm - The Cairngorm Ski Resort - The Funicular Controversy

The Funicular Controversy

By 1990, much of the resort's original infrastructure was ageing and proving increasingly difficult to maintain. The chairlifts and tows were also susceptible to the high winds which the mountain is prone to, and were frequently forced to shut in winds above 25 mph (40 km/h). The Cairngorm Chairlift Company, who operated the resort, proposed removing the chairlift and replacing it with a funicular railway

There was strong opposition to the funicular from environmental groups, who were concerned about damage to the mountain and its fragile soils and plants. The eventual compromise reached, after negotiations with Scottish Natural Heritage, allowed the Cairngorm Mountain Railway to be built, but with restrictions on its usage. Only skiers are allowed to exit from the top station. Other users can visit the restaurant and visitor centre, but are prevented from leaving the building to walk to the summit of the mountain.

Further controversy mired the building project, with budget over-runs, allegations of conflicts of interest by those connected to both Highland Council and the construction company and questions raised about the use of public money. The construction was estimated to have cost around £19.6 million, mostly funded by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), a government body. £2.7 million was provided by the European Union.

Improved snow conditions in recent winters has increased its use by skiers, Cairngorm Mountain Ltd but it is dependent on other users. Recent good snow conditions helped the company record a profit of £736,031 for the year ending 31 March 2010, Cairngorm Mountain Ltd HIE is interested in selling the resort. There are also groups campaigning to remove the restriction on walkers leaving the top station.

Read more about this topic:  Cairn Gorm, The Cairngorm Ski Resort

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