Due to the current guidance on the COVID-19/Coronavirus situation we have closed all of our National Park offices to the public until further notice with most staff members now working from home.
We have plans in place to deliver business continuity but there will be some areas of our work which may have to be restricted or delayed. We are following advice from the Scottish and UK Governments in relation to Coronavirus/ Covid-19 and will update our working procedures as and when required.
During this time, please do not phone the main office switchboard number (01479 873535) as this will not be answered.
Planning & Development Management and Outdoor Access are statutory functions for the CNPA and these teams can be contacted by email in the first instance:
CNPA Planning Service
The CNPA planning service will continue to operate during the Covid-19 outbreak. Our website will operate as normal with access to Planning Committee agendas, papers and minutes as well as normal public access to the detail on planning applications. However, the precautions needed to reduce the impact of Covid-19 mean that some parts of the planning service will operate differently:
CNPA offices and planning staff
The CNPA offices are closed and staff will not meet applicants or members of the public. CNPA planning staff can be contacted by phone and email.
CNPA Planning Committee
Planning Committee meetings will be by video and teleconference between members. The meetings will not be open to the public. The CNPA is investigating ways of providing a video stream of the meeting that we hope to operate by our meeting in May 2020.
The Planning Committee will continue to consider requests from applicants, supporters and objectors to present to the Planning Committee meeting. In the short term this can either be done by providing a video presentation to be played to the committee or by a Powerpoint presentation and/or statement to be read to the committee by a CNPA officer. The CNPA is investigating ways of allowing people to present directly to the committee by a video link but that will not be possible in the short term.
The Planning Committee will not undertake site visits while the Covid-19 restrictions are in place. Decisions by the committee will be based on the information supplied with an application and presented to them in reports, representations and other presentations.
Cairngorms Tourism Emergency Response Group
The group has been set up to provide consistent and comprehensive analysis of the implications of Covid-19 for tourism, to coordinate communications with the tourism industry, ensure close working between key agencies and the private sector, to gather, share, facilitate, interpret and disseminate information and agree relevant actions and delivery plans.
Membership consists of; Cairngorms Business Partnership, VisitAberdeenshire, MoraySpeyside, VisitScotland, Aberdeenshire Council, Highland Council, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and CNPA (Chair).
Advice for Visitors
You are not to travel to the National Park unnecessarily. Recreation outside is still very important for both our physical and mental health, particularly at this stressful time, so people should continue to exercise but please follow the advice issued by Government and spend time in the outdoors close to your home rather than travelling elsewhere.
Access rights do not include motor vehicles, there is no legal right to park beside a road overnight. Until further notice do not park overnight anywhere in a camper van or mobile home anywhere in the National Park.
Until further notice we ask that you do not wild camp in the National Park.
Essential travel does not include visits to second homes, camp sites, caravan sites or similar, whether for isolation purposes or holidays. People should remain in their primary residence.
Advice for Residents
The following was issued by the Scottish Government on March 23rd
- All public gatherings of more than two people in Scotland are banned, excluding household groups or in a work related capacity.
- All non-essential shops should be closed, including public spaces such as libraries, communal parks and playgrounds, and places of worship.
- The only permissible reasons to leave your home are as follows:
- To shop for basic necessities and that should be limited to once a day.
- To take exercise once a day – but alone or with your own household, not in groups.
- For medical reasons or to care for a vulnerable person.
- To travel to essential work if that cannot be done at home.
For further information please visit Scottish Government Coronavirus in Scotland advice and NHS Scotland Coronavirus/COVID-19 advice.
There has already been an impressive amount of work done by local citizens and community groups to develop COVID Response Groups to help deal with the situation and take pressure off the emergency and public services. Please keep an eye on local social media channels and community websites for further details to volunteer or to obtain assistance.
To complement this work the Scottish Government launched the National Volunteering Plan for Coronavirus on 30 March. Volunteers who want to support their communities should visit Ready Scotland to find out how they can help.
Local information about how to help can be found at:
Advice for businesses in Scotland
For the latest government advice for businesses during this time please visit the Business Support page on the Scottish Government website.
For guidance and advice for the tourism industry please visit the Scottish Tourism Alliance Advice webpage here.
For updates from Highlands and Islands Enterprise on support for businesses and communities visit their Coronavirus (COVID-19) advice page. Scottish Enterprise is also providing information on business support on their website here.
Advice for Land Managers
We will endeavour to update this information and keep it accurate, including links to relevant information from partner organisations, however please note, information changes rapidly day by day. In particular more clarification on ‘key worker status’ and ‘essential activities’ is likely to be forthcoming in the days ahead.
The clear message from the Scottish Government and health professionals is to stay at home unless you are involved in an essential activity.
Muirburn is not an essential activity and poses increased risks to emergency services. The statutory muirburn season continues until 15th April, however the consensus amongst moorland mangers is to immediately suspend all muirburn for the rest of this season. The following from Scottish Land and Estates provides a clear explanation:
“During the Covid-19 pandemic, to help make sure there is no chance for additional strain on public services, SLE is urging moorland managers, crofters and hill farmers not to undertake any more muirburn for the rest of this season. The fortnight before the end of the main muirburn season on 15 April is usually a very busy time for muirburn as it is often the only time when the heather is dry enough. However, even after a careful risk assessment shows conditions are safe for burning, there can still be a very small risk of a fire getting out of control and needing emergency services to be called out. This could divert resources from elsewhere and put others at risk. During this pandemic, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) potentially would not be available and so a wildfire may not be controlled, or an ambulance or hospital bed may not be available to treat anyone injured.”
Therefore, to make 100% sure there is no additional call on public services, we are asking land managers not to undertake any more muirburn for the rest of this season.
SNH has made available the following guidance for deer managers:
“In the fight back against Covid-19 deer managers should not therefore be travelling to go stalking. Deer stalking at this time is not an essential activity and undertaking stalking does carry a risk of accidents. Responding to and dealing with any incident will put the emergency services and NHS under further pressure.”
Further to this ADMG is recommending deer managers should:
- consider whether work such as Habitat Impact Assessments, training, or other activity, even if this takes place out of doors, is essential or whether it can be postponed.
- postpone any non-essential face-to-face meetings including DMG meetings. There are online platforms that can be effectively used for small meetings such as Skype or Teams.
- avoid all non-essential travel.
- avoid any activity that might, through accident or error, place additional pressure on any of the emergency services.
- check the Covid-19 Support for Businesses, Guidance for Employees, employers and businesses and other pages for notifications of measures that could help your business.
Carcase collection from larders will be affected as processors respond to the current situation. However, the Scottish Government through Scotland Food and Drink has said that businesses involved in food supply should remain open if possible, subject to being able to adhere to two requirements safe social distancing practice and normal health and safety requirements. We will issue further updates as information is made available.
We are expecting a statement from Scottish forestry and Forest and Land Scotland and will add it here as soon as possible. Confor have created a new Covid-19 information hub and have released a statement from a Defra spokesperson: “Those involved in the supply chain of wood for key goods (including, but not limited to pallets, heating, packaging, tissue paper, timber harvesting, sawmills) should be considered key workers. Only necessary workers, producing key goods, should continue to attend workplaces. Working from home should be encouraged for administrative staff.”
Farming & crofting
Farming and crofting are essential activities with considerable human health and animal welfare implications if they cease to operate. Further updates available from Scotland Food and Drink.
CNPA staff have ceased all site visits and field work, however we recognise that some fieldwork may be connected to essential activities in forestry or farm management.
Further guidance for ecologists and fieldworkers is available from the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM):
National Park facilities and operations
All public toilets, over night car parking, ranger bases, RSPB nature reserves, bothies, visitor centres, cafes and shops are closed to the public until further notice.
For up to date information on specific areas or places please visit;
Updated 15:41 30th March 2020