Frequently Asked Questions
1. Why is trust membership limited to voters in the PH22 postcode area?
Only individuals on the electroral role in the PH22 postcode area can become ordinary (full) members of the trust, any other individuals or organisations can join the trust as associate members and attend meetings but cannot vote. We fully acknowledge that the wider community has a stake in the success of Cairngorm and we welcome their support and involvement, however the Scottish Government Community Land team has strongly advised us to restrict the area and we must maximise the chances of success.
2. Where can I read your plan/proposals for a post-takeover future for the Cairngorm Ski Area?
We will be publishing these over the coming weeks and months. We must first appoint the full board and approve the plans before making them public, What we can say with some certainty is that we plan to address many of the issues which have lingered over the years such as opening hours, catering, parking, and queueing as far as we can and we intend that every penny made on the hill will be invested back into it.
3. how you would propose to keep the resort solvent in the case of repeated years of no snow, which is an extremely likely scenario given global warming?
Climate change is a real concern for Scottish Skiing but the local effects over the next 25 years are far from certain. Snow-sports visitors to Cairngorm bring an average of £4m into the local economy every winter and it makes absolute sense to continue to support the business for the next decade. We propose to install Technoalpin SnowFactories in the Lower Cas and Ciste areas, these machines will give us a guaranteed ski season between December and April, something no Scottish resort has ever had which we believe will significantly increase the economic impact on the area during winter.
4. How much money will you make from this?
Nothing, except reasonable expenses - "The income and property of the Company shall be applied solely towards promoting the Purposes and do not belong to the members. Any surplus income or assets of the Company are to be applied for the benefit of the Community". The directors of the trust will be unpaid and elected by the members, any profits made will be reinvested in the Estate for the good of the community
5. Where is the money coming from to buy the estate?
We hope to use a combination of crowdfunding and grants to finance the purchase of the estate. At this stage nobody knows what the purchase price will be.
6. Can I Help?
Absolutely, the biggest hurdle we face at the moment is gathering as much public support as possible before we submit our request to purchase the land. We need to show that there is overwhelming public support for community ownership both in the PH22 area and outside, the more support we have the higher chance of success. We will be asking for members to help us in signing people up in the PH22 area soon.
7. How do I sign up?
Please Subscribe for updates, so that we can keep you up to date. We hope to send out membership forms soon.
8. How does this work
The trust is making an asset transfer request for the Cairngorm Estate and its fixed assets from Highlands and Islands Enterprise. Our eligibility has been confirmed and we have made a formal approach to HIE to enter into discussions over our transfer request. We are currently working towards making an application to the Scottish Land Fund for stage one funding which covers some of the professional services we require to make our bid, such as valuation of the estate and engineers reports for some of our proposals. If our stage one application is successful, we will commission all the reports we need and complete our asset transfer request. Once HIE have our transfer request, they will make a decision on whether to accept in full, decline, or accept are offer under modified terms. If we don't acept the decision we can appeal to the scottish government.
9. What about the current tenant/operator, Natural Retreats?
Natural Retreats has a 25 year lease on the ski area. The trust would have to honour the terms of the lease if a buyout succeeded. As the owner of the land and assets, the trust would receive the rental income (at least £120,000 a year) and could re-invest it back into the infrastructure, As a community body we have access to sources of grant funding that are not available at the moment and we would have considerably more influence over where any grant funding would be used in the future. In the event that Natural Retreats no longer wished to continue with its tenancy, the trust would be able to take over operations or appoint a new operator.
10. If you become the landlord (of the ski area) you become responsible for the vast amount of uplift / structure / tracks / buildings in the ‘Ski Area’ part of the Cairngorm Estate. Will you not become liable for the construction / repair / maintenance of these facilities and also have to fund costs for the Funicular infrastructure / repair / upgrades as well ?
We would seek to become responsible for everything in the area with the possible exception of the funicular which we would seek to operate for HIE. As a community body we will still have access to funding from HIE, along with additional funding that is not directly available to HIE or NR today such as the big lottery fund, funding for community renewables funding, community foundations, and many other sources. We have focused on improving the winter sports provision because it has such a huge impact on the employees and the local economy, but we also plan to improve the summer experience to make the most of the facility for the community
11. There are many very popular footpaths which do require active and constant maintenance, of which some lead in to UK & EU protected sites, How will you fund these repairs and maintenance and will you continue to invest & improve these vital assets to the mountain path network?
It is absolutely our aim to maintain and improve the path network, we believe in improving sustainable access to the area. Again we will have access to the existing and additional sources of funding to achieve this. The ciste development plans include an outdoor education space and regeneration of habitat around the Ciste base station along with additional paths.
12. How would you see improvements to roads and car parking / snow clearing being taken forward, where do you envisage the funding for this ?
We will take advice from the people who have been working on the hill as to the best route forward, but we are investigating smarter ways to use the car parks, one day we would like uplift from Coire na Ciste but clearly that is a long term project, in the shorter term we will need to investigate ways of encouraging car sharing, using buses effectively (such as allowing drop off in the Cas then busing drivers back from the Ciste side). and investment in more modern snow clearing equipment.
13. If the community take over succeeds, runs into financial difficulty at a later date and fails / Natural Retreats removes themselves from the site for whatever reason and the funicular closes, under the planning agreement , I understand that the whole structure must be removed , I would hazard a guess of a cost of probably 20 – 30 million pounds, probably more, how will the community organisation underpin this vast sum of money ?
We believe that community ownership gives the ski area the best possible chance of success. We are also looking at proposals where the trust would take ownership of everything except the funicular and operate it for HIE, ultimately if any disaster befell the area then the community trusts liability is limited to one pound per member and i would imagine the assets would be taken back under government control as they were last time, the difference in this case is that the debts have already been written off, the situation would not be very different to today.
14. Why do you think you can access more funding streams than the present operator
15. You’ve stated not wanting to take on the railway but believe you can operate the Railway for HIE so... would you be charging HIE a rent as you are the land owner and HIE is a tenant ( the funicular railway ) or will you be paying HIE a lease for the structure & buildings which then you would pass onto your tenant (NR) - So who will be in overall charge of the Tenants in situ ?
The exact format of the asset transfer request is still to be determined. We believe there are concerns from some parties about the liabilities associated with the funicular, one way of solving that problem might be to lease the funicular from HIE rather than take ownership of it, then the funicular would be sublet to the operator as part of the existing lease. This is just one suggestion as to how we might work to find a path forward that works for all parties.
16. Mountain Biking - where do you intending to run mountain biking from as there are access restrictions on the Funicular Railway?
We are aware of the Visitor Management Plan which prevents free access from the Funicular and Aviemore and Glenmore Community Trust has no intention of violating that, or any other agreements it would inherit with the estate. We believe Mountain Biking would provide significant economic benefits to the operator and the economy, and would be looking to work with the relevant bodies to try to find an acceptable solution for all.
17. Would you be looking to HIE for grant funding towards your many proposals ?
Yes, along with any other funding sources we can access. HIE is the local enterprise company, whose remit is:
- Supporting businesses and social enterprises to shape and realise their growth aspirations
- Strengthening communities and fragile areas
- Developing growth sectors, particularly distinctive regional opportunities
- Creating the conditions for a competitive and low-carbon region
We think it’s pretty clear that a community led regeneration/development of Cairngorm Mountain creates an even stronger case for intervention. HIE is spending a lot of public funds keeping Cairngorm on life support, we believe we would ultimately reduce this dependency on public funds, but in the meantime investing for economic growth is exactly what HIE exists to do.
18. Do you have a code of conduct for who and how any correspondence is posted in the media / social media for members of the Trust ?
We don’t at present, but this is a good idea and we will create a policy governing posts on our social media, and by our directors. The trust has clear differences of opinion with the current owner and operator over the future of Cairngorm, but we do not believe negative campaigning is helpful to anyone and we do not encourage it.
19. Are you confident you would obtain planning permissions for hydro / snowmaking / facilities in Coire na Ciste as a substantial stable vehicle track would have to be constructed to be able to cope with huge weight and construction traffic for your proposals (snow factory / hydro scheme / water pipelines / buildings) bearing in mind the heightened pressures that have been brought to CNPA / SEPA / HC by various conservation organisations & groups with recent work in Coire Cas but also throughout the National Park ( with access tracks in particular ? )
We believe there is a substantial economic case to be made for developments in Coire Cas and Coire na Ciste and we believe planning applications should carry more weight if we can show significant community backing for those proposals. We are confident that it is possible to get permission for these developments, but we do understand that it is a significant task and would take a lot of planning and administration. This is one area where it’s clear that the trust would be able to assist the current operator by shouldering some of that administrative burden. We also look forward to working with the current operational team to find creative solutions to some of these issues.
20. Your proposals for a hydro scheme in Coire na Ciste . I had a very quick glance at the diagram and it appears that the intake is half way up the Ciste Gully, if so, how could you open this as a safe ski run in winter if you have a large pool and concrete structure in the tight narrow section of the Ciste Gully.
The proposed hydro schemes really aren’t very large in size at all, a weir of around 1.3m height would be required, and because of the tight section and steep gradient the pool behind it would be very small, allowing it to be covered with a grating or other protective structure. We would of course hope the experienced hill staff would work with us to find the best solution to this.
21. Is there any vetting of new or existing trust members i.e. If they are found to abuse social media sites by using foul language and having personal attacks on people , would their membership be declined ?
The trust is governed by its articles of association which were defined by the Scottish government, and any changes to them could render us ineligible for asset transfer. The trust would decline membership to individuals if we believe they are unfit to join us, and it can expel individuals although that is a fairly lengthy process. We (the board) have only ever wanted to create a positive campaign for change, we will never condone personal attacks or foul language and will remove any such posts that are under our control.
22. The proposals (posters) that you had on show at the open day and that were shown in the Local paper , are you going to have these available on the website ?
Yes, we plan to update our vision based on the feedback we received at the open day and then publish our revised plans before presenting them to the public and relevant bodies for consultation.
23. Have these proposal panels been designed and deliberated by the Directors of the trust in recent few months since the Trust was setup ?
The proposals are based on work previously carried out by Cairngorm Mountain Ltd, the Save the Ciste campaign, and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, as well as some ideas from trust members. They were all discussed by the board before the open day, and the panels were viewed. Please bear in mind that at this point these are discussion points and examples of what should be possible rather than concrete plans.
24. For your very ambitious plans you'll probably need to double work force for running and maintaining site, are you confident your income will double to support this, bearing in mind a lot of time numbers are governed by car park size ?
We believe one of the biggest challenges at Cairngorm is the very high fluctuation in demand and ability to staff up for busy periods. Addition of the bike parks and alpine coaster would help to create more stable year round demand allowing the centre to support a higher number of full time employees. Higher, more consistent demand for snow sports would allow better planning for shuttle busses, and in conjunction with car sharing and a drop off system could allow for much more efficient use of the ciste car park, and of course uplift from the ciste side would transform the hill on busy winter days. More quality employment is a key goal of the trust which could and should be funded through a better product, not public subsidies.
25. You mentioned refurbishing the Sheiling building in Coire Cas, do you have any idea of costs to refurbish the building including surveyors inspection costs and construction of new buildings for maintenance & equipment stored there ?
No, not at this point. The vision we’ve presented is a long term plan, we don’t pretend it will all happen immediately and it will require a lot of input from the operator and the employees. We do not currently have access to information on the state of the Sheiling building, but as a part of the asset transfer process we hope to get it.
26. Would you be looking to upgrade the Day Lodge , Base Station , Ptarmigan as well as the Sheiling ?
Upgrading the buildings is not a high priority for us at this time, improving the lift infrastructure and landscape, and maintaining the buildings is. We would certainly not be against plans by the operator to upgrade these buildings though.
27. How much will the cost of the insurance premiums go up for having 5 chairlifts on site?
By less than the net benefit of having those lifts… and if it didn’t, we wouldn’t install them. Sadly there is a mindset at all levels that Cairngorm can only ever be a liability, this is simply not the case as we hope to prove through realistic business cases and planning as the process moves forward, and if some of the proposals did prove to be uneconomical we would alter or abandon them.
28. How many new workshops will be built to store & maintain all new equipment on site?
Enough workshops, in sensitively chosen locations subject to engagement with relevant bodies and planning consent.