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Highland Council reversal on proposed overnight parking ban at Cairngorms' most popular beauty spot

By Gavin Musgrove

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Notification of proposals for parking charges and a ban on overnight stays displayed at Glenmore last Autumn.
Notification of proposals for parking charges and a ban on overnight stays displayed at Glenmore last Autumn.

Highland Council has now made some major changes to parking proposals at the Cairngorms’ most popular beauty spot including scrapping a ban on overnight stays after initial plans sparked a fierce backlash.

The local authority is also planning to introduce a discounted parking permit for Badenoch and Strathspey residents visiting the Loch Morlich and wider Glenmore area.

In addition, Pay and Display restrictions are now only proposed to be in force from March 1 to October 31.

The revisions come in response to concerns and anger expressed during the local authority’s public consultation last Autumn.

The draft proposals show the council now intends to:

• withdraw the ban on overnight parking in Pay and Display bays and allow parking for over 24 hours.

• Provide a discounted permit for local residents to accommodate access. Two options will be available – permits costing £40 for one year or £11 per month.

• Pay and Display restrictions in place from March 1 to October 31 and not the whole year as originally proposed.

• ‘Provide officers on the ground’ to manage and enforce any restrictions during this period.

The council has said it will be coordinating proposed tariffs with neighbouring landowner Forestry Land and Scotland to ‘ensure consistency’ and that they will ‘address user needs over length of stay’.

A full report will be submitted to a special meeting of the council’s area committee either later this month or in March for a final decision.

The scheme proposes to introduce Pay and Display parking on the C1126 Cairngorm ski road between The Reindeer Centre and the Hayfield car park.

Most of the rest of the road between Rothiemurchus Lodges’s access road junction to the Hayfield snow gates will be designated as no waiting at any time zones under the plans.

The exceptions are a loading bay by the Pine Marten cafe and a residents’ permit zone in front of the Glenmore houses.

Last week’s Highland News and Media revealed the extent of the resentment over the original parking proposals described variously as ‘impossible to police’, ‘ill thought-out’, ‘discriminatory’, a ‘money-making scheme for the council’ and could even endanger lives.

Amongst those opposed were Mountaineering Scotland, the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre, the University of Edinburgh, Nethy Bridge Community Council and members of the Cairngorm Runners.

Malcolm Hinsley is a member of the latter and is maintaining his objection.

He said: “There’s no justification for parking charges in Glenmore after 6pm even in mid-summer as all the tourists have gone elsewhere for dinner.

“There’s no parking problem to solve. We ran a few sessions on Loch Morlich beach last year in July and August and by 6.30pm it was deserted.

“The only reason for this proposal is to generate a revenue stream... Obviously the first port of call for spending the income would have to be to pay for a parking enforcement officer.”

The advertisement of the parking notice proposals on display in Glenmore last Autumn. They have now been amended in response to the backlash in a public consultation.
The advertisement of the parking notice proposals on display in Glenmore last Autumn. They have now been amended in response to the backlash in a public consultation.

Mr Hinsley described the discounted parking permit as a ‘pretense’: “Given that each visit for our runners would cost £4 it would require 10 visits to break even.

“We use other locations as well to provide variety and minimise impact. We already pay for parking through Council Tax and vehicle duty and we are being asked to pay again.

“As a running club this will seriously impact our activities as the charges apply to our summer season when we have daylight hours in the evening.

“Given that there’s about 3000 people in Aviemore and about one million visitors over the course of a year where’s the benefit in squeezing as much as possible out of the locals?”

He added: “It’s simply a restriction on access to the local countryside for many people who will find the scale of the charges way too high.

“Pretty much any green space left in Aviemore is being built on and anyone with children will have no access to green spaces without paying – that’s hardly a benefit to the local community.”

Badenoch MSP Kate Forbes believes the new proposals need to go out to public consultation.

She said: “The original proposals have been modified considerably, and whilst I understand the desire to get something in place ahead of the tourist season, it may be wiser to consult further.

“There will be a significant number of people affected, not least of all the local communities, and I feel it would be more helpful if the new measures can demonstrate they have widespread support.

“What is encouraging though, is the commitment that officers will be there to ensure enforcement – as a lack of resource for enforcement has been a roadblock to meaningful progress at other similar hotspots.”

A Highland Council spokesman said: “The changes in the proposals are a direct result of responding to registered objections and have been communicated to them.

“We do not require to re-advertise them as they are reductions in the impact of the original proposed order, however, we have detailed them on the consultation page.

“As a result of the changes to the proposals numerous objectors have withdrawn their objections.”

The revised parking notice can be viewed at https://www.highland.gov.uk/downloads/file/27288/glenmore_2023_tro_pack

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