Local Plan - Statement regarding Appeal
16th October 2012
Last month we heard that the legal challenge brought by three conservation groups to the Cairngorms Local Plan had been rejected on all counts. We heard on Thursday last week that the appellants are lodging an appeal against this judgement. It is now 18 months since the challenge was first brought. We are very disappointed, given that this risks causing further delay in implementing the Local Plan. We do not yet know what the grounds of appeal are, and the appellants have six weeks before they need to set them out.
We have instructed our lawyers to lodge a motion seeking 'urgent disposal' - i.e. asking the court to 'fast-track' the appeal because of the delays the ongoing process creates - though 'urgent' in court terms is still likely to be several months into next year. We have also instructed them to pursue the matter of costs given the implications for public funds.
CNPA welcomes rejection of Local Plan Inquiry appeal
21st September 2012
Duncan Bryden, Convener of the Cairngorms National Park Authority said: "We very much welcome Lord Glennie's decision to reject all of the grounds on which the adoption of the Local Plan was challenged in this appeal.
"We are pleased that the judgement confirms that the adoption of the Local Plan was carried out correctly, and that the Local Plan will now remain intact in its entirety. The judgment is very detailed and comprehensive and we will take the time to study it over the coming days.
"This decision will provide clarification of the law in relation to Scottish National Parks which will help the Park Authority and all stakeholders in the Park to deliver the four aims of the Park for the benefit of people and nature."
To read the judgment please click here:
Norwegians tell of warm welcome
1st October 2012
Visitors from National Parks in Norway have told the BBC they can learn from the warm welcome people get in the Cairngorms National Park
National Parks in Norway have existed far longer than those in Scotland but unlike here, they are traditionally areas people are kept out of. On a visit to the Cairngorms National Park last week (24-26 September), a delegation spent time speaking to those who work in and manage the Cairngorms National Park and learned how working in partnership with others and marketing could benefit their rural communities.
The BBC spent time with the Norwegians during the visit and in the BBC Radio Scotland Out of Doors programme, revealed their fascination and interest in how we do things here.
You can listen again to the programme here.
Cairngorms National Park welcomes Norwegian delegation
21st September 2012
A delegation from six National Parks in Norway are on a fact-finding mission in Scotland next week (24-26September) to see what they can learn from the Cairngorms National Park.
They're the latest overseas visitors keen to see how the Scottish model of National Parks is working for the benefit of the economy, the environment and communities.
Scotland's largest National Park is hosting the visitors - who include the Oppland County Mayor, County Governor and National Park Managers and Board Members - for three days. In that time they'll not only be shown the spectacular scenery and wildlife but also be given an insight into how the Cairngorms National Park is managed to protect it, as well as promote business and tourism.
The County Governor of Oppland, Kristin Hille Valla said: "We are all very much looking forward to our visit and we are especially interested in finding out more about stakeholder involvement and visitor management in the Cairngorms National Park."
Like in Scotland, Norway's National Parks have limited resources and they are keen to see how the Cairngorms National Park has worked with partners very effectively to lever in funding from other sources in order to make things happen, such as path improvements, visitor information centres and training courses.
CNPA Convener Duncan Bryden said: "It is a great honour to welcome such important visitors from Norway's National Parks. We are very proud of what we have achieved here in the Cairngorms for Park communities and visitors and see this as a great opportunity to share our experience and knowledge. This one of a number of planned visits to the Cairngorms by delegations from other parts of Norway, Sweden and Iceland reflecting international interest in how the National park is managed.
"We're also keen to learn from our counterparts in Norway what they are doing in their Parks as we have many similarities not just in terms of the landscape but also rural issues such as there being the job opportunities for young people to encourage them to stay and raise families."
Holly joins the CNPA as a Modern Apprentice
21st September 2012
Grantown girl Holly McAuly-Brand has joined the team at the Cairngorms National Park Authority and is set to gain valuable on the job training to help her gain a Modern Apprenticeship in Business and Administration.
School leaver Holly (17) is working in reception at the CNPA's Grantown offices with her main tasks being keeping meetings diaries up to date, travel bookings for board and staff, sorting out the mail and other general office duties. Holly will be learning new skills, such as in IT and communications, while gaining industry recognised accreditations through her Modern Apprenticeship training.
The CNPA approached Skills Development Scotland - the body promoting Modern Apprenticeships - earlier this year to get information on how to go about employing a Modern Apprentice to help bolster the organisation's Corporate Services Group. Holly landed the job following an external recruitment process and joined the CNPA at the end of the summer.
On taking up her job at the Park Authority, Holly said: "I was really delighted to get the job and it's such a bonus being able to work and gain qualifications at the same time."
The CNPA and Skills Development Scotland jointly meet the cost of Holly's Modern Apprenticeship training providing her with new skills to help her develop in her role at the CNPA. Holly is supported by her line manager at the CNPA, Kate Christie and Kath Kernaghan from ITP Training - based in Invergordon - who deliver the Modern Apprenticeship in Business and Administration to organsiations and firms in the local area.
Kate Christe commented: "Modern Apprenticeships are a good way of helping young people gain employment, access training and get good qualifications without having to leave the National Park. It is something that we are keen to encourage others to do so we'd like to be seen to be leading by example. I'm sure Holly's Modern Apprenticeship with us will stand her in good stead for the future."
Kath Kernaghan added: "We are delighted to be involved in the delivery of Holly's Modern Apprenticeship, in her role with the CNPA. Modern Apprenticeships are a fantastic development opportunity for staff, allowing them to learn and prove their competence in their role, on site. Our assessors work very closely with the candidate and their employer to ensure we are all working towards the same goals in the candidate's development."
Derek Cairns of Skills Development Scotland added: "The CNPA has embraced the benefits of the Modern Apprenticeship programme for the first time with this appointment. Holly is learning new skills and gaining valuable work experience whilst working towards a recognised qualification. We look forward to working with CNPA again in the future."
Full Steam Ahead
14th September 2012
Passengers on the Strathspey Steam Railway are on track to travel further through the Cairngorms National Park thanks to a decision by the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) on Friday 14 September 2012.
The CNPA Planning Committee approved plans to extend the railway line - which runs from Aviemore - 100 metres eastwards from Broomhill to a crossing point over the River Dulnain. In time, the Strathspey Railway Company would like to re-open the railway all the way to Grantown on Spey.
Deputy Planning Chairman, Peter Argyle, said: "This is the first step towards seeing the railway line between Aviemore and Grantown on Spey reopened, giving people an easy and enjoyable way to travel along the route and experience the National Park and something we're happy to support. The steam railway is very popular with visitors and this will add to their experience and offer potential benefits to the communities the railway serves."
The bridge over the River Dulnain will be reinstated with new bridge decking using a former Network Rail steel bridge which is currently stored in Boat of Garten.
Part of the original stone abutments will be removed during the work and then rebuilt to their current appearance. Due to ongoing work on the line, local staff and volunteers are already skilled in carrying out this kind of work.
Planning Officer, Katherine Donnachie, said: "Re-using the original stone abutments will keep the original character of the bridge and preserve a piece of local heritage. We welcome the re-use of materials from a former steel bridge. There will be minimal disruption to the natural environment while the work is carried out, including water of the River Dulnain."
21 days to submit representations in planning applications
14th September 2012
The Planning Committee of the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) on Friday 14 September 2012 agreed to bring the time people have to submit a response to a planning applications more in-line with other Planning authorities.
For representations to be included in a planning paper for consideration by the planning committee, they must be received within 21 days of the date the application was "called-in" by the CNPA.
Previously, the term had been 42 days but experience showed this resulted in delay in determining some applications, something the Scottish Government is keen does not happen.
Deputy Planning Chairman, Peter Argyle, said: "Local Authorities will continue to notify relevant consultees and neighbours when they receive the application. The fact the CNPA will allow people 21 days from call-in rather than the date the application is validated actually still gives interested parties longer than this to make their representation.
"We wish to determine peoples' planning applications as effectively and efficiently as possible. It's now possible to view and comment on applications easily online, giving people plenty of time to take part but not delay the process by waiting for time to elapse when a decision could have been taken."
Anyone wishing to speak at a planning meeting should also request to do so within 21 days of the call-in.
The change is made to paragraphs 9, 11 and 12 of the Planning Committee Standing Orders.
National Parks BIG on Outdoor Learning
7th September 2012
A massive outdoor learning event has been taking place in the Cairngorms National Park this week for senior pupils and teachers from local authority areas covering Scotland's two national parks.
The National Parks' Residential Exchange kicked off on Tuesday 4 September for 64 senior pupils from 12 different schools representing six out of the seven local authorities: Highland, Aberdeenshire, Perth & Kinross, Angus, Stirling and West Dumbartonshire. The pupils have been taking part in a range of adventurous, environmental and challenging activities and have even had an overnight bivouac under the stars with an introduction to the ethos of 'Leave No Trace'. They have also been working towards gaining their John Muir Discovery Award.
The pupils residential concludes today (Friday 7 September) and the weekend is dedicated to teaching the teachers with a weekend of Continuous Professional Development (CPD) activities aimed at helping teachers to gain more confidence in taking children out of the classroom for outdoor learning.
This is the second year that the National Park authorities, Education Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage, Forestry Commission Scotland and the local authorities have organised the residential programme, supported with funding from The North Face Explore Fund. Last year,s event took place in the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park.
Alison Hammerton, Educations Scotland,s Development Officer for Outdoor Learning with the National Parks said: "This is an innovative partnership project and as last year's event proved, extremely valuable for senior pupils in terms of their own personal development. For teachers it is an opportunity to build confidence in taking pupils outdoors for learning in Scotland's national parks and gives them the chance to develop their own approaches and activities."
CNPA Board Convener, Duncan Bryden said: "As far as outdoor classrooms go, they don't come much bigger and better than the Cairngorms National Park or the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. It is imperative that we - with all our partners - encourage and make outdoor learning for pupils and teachers as easy as possible. All the research that has been done suggests that next to financial resources, a lack of confidence in taking children outdoors for learning was one of the biggest barriers so residential events like this are very important."
Kingussie High School teacher Tracey Lomas who has been there with pupils all this week, is taking part in the teacher's CPD event this weekend. She said: "It's a wonderful opportunity for our pupils to experience challenging situations and develop their leadership skills whilst incorporating the beautiful National Park that we are so lucky to live in."
If You Go Down to the Woods Today!
7th September 2012
Deshar Primary School pupils are being treated to a special day out in their local woods today (Friday 7 September) with a forest scavenger treasure hunt, tracking and making woodland art. They'll also help make a large sculpture of a capercaillie, which will live permanently in Deshar woods.
The Deshar Eco Activity Day has been organised by Scott Henderson, the Boat of Garten Woodland Ranger, with help from Highland Council Ranger Saranne Bish and artist Kevin Blackwell. The aim is to give the children an insight into the variety of wildlife and habitats in their woods - as well as having some fun!
To get their creative juices flowing, pupils will be making animals like squirrels, crossbills and dragonflies out of wood and contributing to the construction, from willow and rowan, of the giant capercaillie sculpture.
Scott Henderson said: "From woodland art to learning about the birds and mammals that share these woods, it's a packed day for the Deshar pupils but I'm sure they are going to really enjoy themselves. It's great that we have the whole school coming - all 25 of them - and it wouldn't be possible without the support of the local community, the CNPA and BSW sawmills who have provided logs and chopping blocks!
"Outdoor learning can really help capture the imaginations of young children and having a resource like Deshar woods on the doorstep is really fortunate and it's great that we can take full advantage of it."
With funding support from the Cairngorms National Park Authority, the Boat of Garten community decided to employ a part-time, seasonal ranger to help people enjoy their local woodlands more responsibly and to help find ways to improve the local woodlands natural heritage value as both a recreational resource and a habitat for wildlife. The Boat woods are highly valued by the community and are well used by locals and visitors alike with people enjoying a range of activities including walking, cycling and bird watching. The local woodland is also an important area for capercaillie, crested tits and red squirrels.
Teaching the Teachers
7th September 2012
The Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) and Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) have been helping teachers to gain more confidence in taking children out of the classroom for outdoor learning in the Park's National Nature Reserves with new educational resources and a Continuous Professional Development event last week (Thursday 30 August) in Deeside.
The CNPA and SNH have produced comprehensive information about the Muir of Dinnet National Nature Reserve and Abernethy National Nature Reserve in Strathspey which gives teachers everything from travel information and health and safety to educational activities and supporting activity cards. The packs also ensure that the activities suggested are closely aligned with Curriculum for Excellence.
At the Burn O' Vat Visitor Centre near Dinnet, staff from both organisations along with Alison Hammerton, Educations Scotland's Development Officer for Outdoor Learning with the National Parks, gave teachers an introduction to the packs, advice on how to get the best from the resources and the opportunity to try an outdoor session using the information provided.
Elspeth Grant, the CNPA's Education and Inclusion Officer who was involved in developing the packs said: "Using these resources to plan educational visits will help make learning both rewarding and stimulating for those taking part as well as being aligned to Curriculum for Excellence. The packs provide a starting place for those leading groups to develop their own approaches and activities as they become more familiar with outdoor learning in these areas."
Dougie Pollok from SNH, who worked closely on the scheme, confirmed: "This initiative will improve the kids' health and wellbeing by getting them out into the fresh air to see our stunning plants and animals in the Cairngorms. And their new 'classrooms' will have some of the best views in Britain! The 50 or so National Nature Reserves represent the very best of our nature in Scotland and we are delighted these Cairngorms reserves will play a vital part in the project. The educational packs are a valuable resource and will help schools experience our wildlife and land at first-hand."
Alison Hammerton added: "The resources give teachers the basics of what they need but it's good to be able to offer them a practical session where they can experience the opportunities offered by the place and try out the activities for themselves. This helps build confidence in taking their pupils there in the near future. All the research we have done suggests that next to financial resources, a lack of confidence in taking children outdoors for learning was one of the biggest barriers. We hope that the resources, the wealth of support available from the National Parks and Education Scotland and events like this, will help overcome that barrier."
Attending the event was teacher Julie Strang from Ballater Primary School, she said: "We are very lucky to have the support of the National Park in creating educational opportunities for schools. I am excited to have a great local resource to take pupils to for outdoor learning."
Wildcat project comes to end but points the way for future action
31st August 2012
An innovative project which provided a trial of targeted conservation actions for the Scottish wildcat in an area of the Highlands has come to an end with its final report being published.
The Scottish wildcat is one of 22 species highlighted as a conservation priority in the Scottish Natural Heritage five-year Species Action Framework (SAF), which concludes this year.
The Cairngorms Wildcat Project helped highlight the rarity of wildcats and the nature of ongoing threats to the species, and also provided valuable pointers to its future conservation across Scotland.
Mainly funded by SNH through SAF, the project, managed by the Cairngorms National Park Authority, successfully raised public awareness of wildcats and cat conservation.
It also resulted in the promotion of domestic cat neutering to prevent breeding with wildcats; close working with five estates on wildcat protection measures, and detailed monitoring of the Cairngorm's populations of wild-living cats; the latter carried out by research staff from the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) in support of the project.
Other successes include increased participation in voluntary feral cat neutering by a network of trained Cats Protection volunteers within the Cairngorms National Park. Such efforts now need to be continued to reduce the threats to wildcats.
The project sought to increase awareness of the defining characteristics which are used to identify wildcats among land managers with evidence that this work has already directly benefited wildcat conservation.
SNH now intends to draw on the experience from the project and to work with those with an interest in wildcats to develop a national plan of actions for the Scottish wildcat.
Ron Macdonald, SNH's head of policy and advice stressed: "The end of the Cairngorms Wildcat Project now starts a new phase of action for the Scottish wildcat. It is now up to us, all of us involved in wildcat conservation, to build on the work of this project to develop a new national action plan for the Scottish wildcat.
"This will involve all those with an interest in helping to preserve what is left of this rare and elusive animal - our only remaining native cat. We remain committed to rescuing the Scottish wildcat and we will shortly begin taking the first steps towards establishing this national action plan.
"While it is true the project has confirmed the parlous state of wildcats, it has also helped to develop practical methods to be used in the field which could and should be applied in the Cairngorms National Park and other strongholds for wildcats.
"We are also encouraged that the wildcat project has successfully stimulated interest in people about wildcats - a factor reflected in the species's greater prominence in the most recent Scottish Nature Omnibus survey."
Findings from the project suggested wildcats are rare but present in low numbers in the western half of the National Park - Badenoch and Strathspey; Highland Perthshire and possibly Glenlivet. There were no records substantiated with photos or carcases from the eastern side of the Park - Deeside, Donside and the Angus Glens.
Will Boyd Wallis, the CNPA's land and conservation programme manager and chair of the wildcat project said: "When we set out to start the Cairngorms Wildcat Project we always knew that this had to be the start of something bigger if we are to save the Scottish wildcat.
"Through the fantastic support of the estates in the National Park, keepers, farmers, vets and volunteers for cats protection and the joint effort of all the project partners we have achieved a great deal. The future of the wildcat is still far from certain, so I am very pleased that we have seen the work set in the Cairngorms help inform a wider national framework of conservation for the species."
Camera trap images and recovered cat carcasses indicate that feral cats and hybrids are more numerous and widespread and occupy the same areas as wildcats, hence risks from hybridisation appear to be real and continuing.
Another success of the project was working with estates to establish a protocol for feral cat control activities which minimised the risks of harming wildcats. These included criteria which help to identify a wildcat in the field and control methods which sought to avoid harm to wildcats.
It also gathered results of opportunistic camera trapping, sightings by the public, and the recovery of wild-living cat carcasses for analysis.
Media enquiries: Fergus Macneill, SNH Public Relations Tel 01463 725021
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