BSCG gave an interview to the BBC  for the Reporting Scotland news programme (see link for video) over the sudden Cairngorm Mountain Limited announcement about trial guided walks to the summit of Cairngorm. This was considered before the funicular got planning permission when it was considered impractical.

Passengers to go off the beaten track - Press and Journal

Mountain rail doors to open - Strathspey Herald

All change for the summit as Cairn Gorm passengers allowed to top - The Scotsman

Sunday Herrald article on An Camus Mor: Endangered bug highlights plight of national parks By Rob Edwards, Environment Editor, 20 Jun 2010.

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© 2010 BSCG.  An Camas Mòr site. The green dwarf shrub in the forgeground is bearberry Arctostaphylos uva-ursi  a constant in this heathland vegetation community that was  overlooked  in survey for the developer.

BSCG deplore  the  CNPA decision on Friday 11 June to give the go ahead to 1500 houses on Rothiemurchus estate within the Cairngorms National Scenic Area . We consider  this decision, that was for 400 more more houses even than   reccommended by the CNPA's own officials,  put the developer's interests  ahead  of the national interest of safeguarding Scotland's most precious countryside.

See articles in P & J and The Scotsman.

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Photo: Lowland heath  at the ACM site.  This is a threatened habitat for which the UK has a special responsibility and is one of the outstanding wildlife habitats habitats that would be destroyed if the ACM proposals are ever given detailed permission (photo BSCG).

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© 2010 BSCG, may be used for reporting purposes with copyright credited.

A rare weevil discovered by BSCG on the threatened An Camas Mòr site this month. Magdalis duplicata a beetle in the weevil family is associated with Caledonian pine. It is classed  as a Notable A.  The invertebrate survey for the developer includes no notable beetles. According to the National Biodiversity Network there are records from only four  10km squares in Scotland  with 3 of these in the Cairngorms area. The most recent Cairngorms area reports seem to be field observations from Mar lodge Estate in upper Deeside on 7 and 8 July in 2000.  In a 15 year study between 1979 and 1993 John Owen  recorded this beetle in 4 km squares in Abernethy Forest.

The springtail Entomobrya nivalis photographed on the threatened ACM site. According to the National Biodiversity Network there are no previous records for this springtail in Badenoch and Strathspey. The only previous record for the Cairngorms area in Tayside  dates back to 1901. No springtails were recorded in the 2008 invertebrate survey for the developer.

springtail entomobrya nivalis 20100608 1767498432

© 2010 BSCG, may be used for reporting purposes with copyright credited.


Additional letter of objection sent to the CNPA over ACM Monday 7 June 2010:

Badenoch & Strathspey Conservation Group

Fiodhag, Nethybridge, Inverness-shire PH25 3DJ Tel 01479 821491

Scottish Charity No. SC003846

Don McKee
Station Square


Dear Don

An Camas Mor - application for a new settlement of up to 1500 houses and associated infrastructure 09/155/CP

I am writing on behalf of BSCG to *object* to the above application for a new settlement of up to 1500 houses and business and other development at An Camas Mor. This objection is in addition to BSCG’s earlier letter submitted on 19.5.10, and relates to the lack of an established need for ACM, and the democratic deficit of determining this application before the public consultation process has been completed and the Local Plan process has run its course.

The CNPA will appreciate that the Reporters for the Local Plan Inquiry gave careful consideration to a range of concerns relating to ACM (see: at
). The Reporters findings include the advice that “/As a result of all of this, a reevaluation of the An Camas Mòr proposal is justified and over reliance on policy history is not appropriate/.” ( see 42.37 ‘Conclusions’). The degree to which the CNPA has failed to undertake any meaningful reevaluation of the ACM project is a serious concern to BSCG.

BSCG is strongly of the view that determination of the above application should be delayed until the Local Plan process for the CNPA’s emerging Local Plan has run its course. There is an ongoing public consultation underway at the moment that does not end until early July, and after that there may or may not be a second Public Inquiry, before the emerging Local Plan can be adopted.

These are important and integral stages of the public consultation for, and public engagement with the CNPA’s first, emerging Local Plan.

If the CNPA determine this application now, this democratic consultation process becomes irrelevant and is effectively stopped dead in its tracks. The CNPA would be determining an application for which there has been no effective public consultation process in terms of including the allocation in their own emerging LP. Instead the CNPA would be relying not only on a LP that was adopted in 1997, but for which the public consultation took place in 1991 and 1992. Moreover this LP has been described by HC Councillors and planning staff as out of date, and in terms of Cambusmore, it provides an allocation for a substantially smaller number of houses than the 1500 being now applied for.

The CNPA are not including any houses for ACM within the emerging Local Plan.

According to the CNPA planners (pers com Karen Major 3.6.10) the emerging LP is due to run for only 3 years from 2011-2013 inclusive.

Over the past 33 years, from 1976-2008 inclusive, there have been 3364 houses completed in Badenoch & Strathspey according to Highland Council figures (of which the vast majority are obviously within the NP). Prior to the establishment of the NP the average number of houses completed each year was 96. From 2004-2008 (the most recent records available) the average number of completions is 134 houses/year.

Based on this information, which reflects the real housing market, it would be realistic to anticipate that the average rate of house building will be in the region of 96 - 134 houses/year in B&S over the lifetime of the emerging LP.

The CNPA has allocated 695 houses for the 3 year period (2011-2013 inclusive) of the emerging LP. This amounts to 232 houses each year, which is about double what can realistically be expected to be built.

In the past 33 years there has never been more than 211 houses built in one year, and there have only been 2 years (1989 and 2006) when the number of houses built has exceeded 200. Therefore it is completely unrealistic to suggest that 695 houses may be built during this LP.

If 134 is taken as a realistic figure, then 402 houses would be built during this LP, leaving almost 300 houses to be carried forward to the next Local Development Plan.

In addition to these approx 300 houses, a further 389 houses already have planning permission (outline or detailed permission, at sites such as Kingussie, Aviemore etc) which have not been included in the emerging LP. And over and above these two figures, there is a further 195 houses already allocated but which do not have planning permission. None of these figures include any building in ACM.

Therefore the CNPA has nearly 900 houses allocated, of which well over a third already have planning consent, over and above what is realistic to allocate for the emerging LP. 900 houses equates to about 7-8 years worth of house building, which is enough houses to see us through the first Local Development Plan (2014-2018) and half way through the *second* Local Development Plan (2019-2023).

This is without any building on ACM whatsoever.

It is worth noting that an average of 134 houses built/year is far higher than the building rate of any other rural part of Highland, and is higher than any other part of Highland at all except for Inverness South (from 2000 – 2008 inclusive). Inverness South is an urban area outwith a NP, and an area that has seen exceptional growth over the past 9 years compared to anywhere else in Highland.

In general, the CNPA will probably achieve 25%-40% affordable housing with 75%-60% open market housing. There is no credible suggestion that ACM is going to provide a higher level of affordable housing than any other development.

It is a common fallacy that by building more houses we will reduce the waiting list for affordable housing. In line with this, there may be a perception that building ACM, which will include an affordable percentage, will reduce the housing waiting list.

However, the effect on affordable housing requirement as a result of growing the population of the NP through the addition of some 1500 houses will be to expand the waiting list, not reduce it. There will be more people living in the Park meaning, over time, more local people entering the housing market for the first time, and more elderly people requiring social housing too – two significant groups of people requiring affordable housing.

Therefore, far from reducing the demand for affordable housing, building more houses simply fuels an increased demand.

It should also be noted that houses are allocated on a points basis, and it is a relatively small number of points that are gained by requesting a house in your own area. Therefore, as has already been experienced by communities in Badenoch & Strathspey, local people may not be allocated the affordable houses that are built in their community.

In view of the above points and given considerations of natural justice, BSCG is very concerned that the CNPA should not undermine its own Local Plan process by determining the biggest application it will almost certainly ever decide on, based on a grossly out of date Local Plan for which many people now around had no opportunity to consult on, and for which there is demonstrably no need for many years to come and several Local Plans hence. Instead the determination should be delayed to allow the CNPA’s own Local Plan, including the public consultation, to be completed in the proper fashion.

Best wishes

Gus Jones


CC J Whittle (R & R Urquhart)