Compare and contrast Natural Retreats claims with the evidence

The claims

NR photo
“Image showing reinstatement of turf on new ground contours prior to lift installation Oct 2015. Track on left of work site retained to move materials and ski lift components avoiding tracking on reinstated vegetation”.

Natural Retreats provided this photo in their supporting statement to the Cairngorms National Park Authority for retrospective planning application for the new track they created at Cairngorm.  If the ground had been restored as well as this photo suggests, the heather would now be in bloom – the reality is rather different.

The evidence from yesterday

While Parkswatch has a large bank of photos of the “restoration” of the reprofiled slope, its hard to demonstrate the extent of the damage from ground level.  The funicular however provides an excellent vantage point.

No sign of blooming heather, in fact most of it is dead.                      Photo credit Alan Brattey
Why, if the restoration was as effective as appears to be shown in the Natural Retreats photo, has such extensive re-seeding (the bright green is the newly sown grass) been required? Photo credit Alan Brattey.
And how did this tree end up on its side and dying? You can see evidence on the ground that suggests it was knocked over by an earth moving machine – perhaps someone got a bit careless when scattering these boulders?   Photo Credit Alan Brattey
The machinery has turned the bottom of the rope slow into a quagmire. It might now turn into a bog but the whole reason for the CNPA granting planning permssion to reprofile was to make it better for skiing and remove the old bulldozed tow line.           Photo Credit Alan Brattey
Part of the problem is Natural Retreats has simply failed to empty the silt traps required by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency. Unfortunately SEPA appears to believe Natural Retreats’ claims that these are emptied on a daily basis.  Photo Credit Alan Brattey.


























































Natural Retreats further claims about car park ski tow

“This experience [of restoration] is being applied to this project and adjacent areas of ground disturbed in underground cable renewal and ski -tow remediation works next to the site at the car park tow and other lifts as part of a three year ski lift upgrade”   (Supporting Statement)

The evidence from the ground

Parkswatch has already published photographic evidence of vehicles driving down the line of the carpark tow damaging the ground which Natural Retreats claim has been “restored”.  These were taken at a distance so here are some from closer up which show what has happened.CIMG8508

It was easier for Natural Retreats to dump a couple of planks to help their vehicles get across boggy ground rather than use the new track which they claim was needed to prevent this happening! Photo Credit Alan Brattey

Photo credit Alan Brattey








Photo credit Alan Brattey

CNPA and HIE need to bring Natural Retreats under control at Cairngorm

These photos provide yet more evidence that Highlands and Islands Enterprise, as landowner, and CNPA, who are responsible for what happens in our National Parks, need to bring Natural Retreats under control in order to protect the environment at Cairngorm.  Things they could and should do include:

  • stop all off-road use of vehicles in the ski area without consent
  • stop all further earth works at Cairngorms, whether requiring planning permission or not, until a proper plan is produced for the area.   Any future works should be subject to outside and independent scrutiny/supervision
  • CNPA should require Natural Retreats and HIE to pay for a fully independent ecological survey on the extent of the damage and options for restoration and meantime reject the current planning application for a track.

4 Comments on “Compare and contrast Natural Retreats claims with the evidence

  1. Do you people who write this XXXX use the free car park provided at coire cas ? Or do you walk up ? You busy body half wits are the people who should be banned from the Cairngorms
    Get a life please !!!

    1. Martin, the road to the ski centre is a public road and the car parks constructed with public money. While there is no compulsory charging at the carparks, one of HIE’s objectives for Natural Retreats is to increase income from carparks. The carpark, if you have not been there recently, is extremely poorly maintained – not that different to how Natural Retreats appears to be treating the rest of the mountain which was the subject of the post. If you are saying that going to a place by car you should lose the right to comment on that place, I disagree – we would lose a large chunk of our right to free speech.

      1. I think the only practical solution here is for NR to buy or have a custom made tracked vehicle with super-low weight, and huge rubber tracks to spead the weight, thus allowing movement from time-time without creating lots of damage. Im sure that the damage being created with heal with time and that the damage cause between 1960 – 1978, when most of the resort was built was far far worse.

        1. Sorry for late approval of comments, am abroad and not had internet access. I guess the key thing is that the ski operators should now be able to find ways of maintaining the ski areas without creating damage and having vehicles as you suggest is one way of doing this. I am afraid though that the bulldozing of the bank below the shieling tow and of the bank by the Cas gantry are both as bad as anything that happened in 70s and 80s. Plants etc will re-colonise almost everything with time but the change is soil structures may result in new species colonising (as James Fenton explained in previous post on hill tracks) with all types of unpredictable consequences. There are very good ecological reasons to take far more care at Cairngorm than has been happening recently.

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