Following a meeting on Friday between local community groups and Forestry Commission Scotland to discuss the proposed car parking charges in the Glen Affric area, the following statement (shown in full) has been issued by Strathglass Marketing Group:
AFFRIC COMPULSORY CAR PARKING CHARGES STILL SUSPENDED
The Strathglass Marketing Group, Strathglass and Affric Community Company, the Tomich Residents Association, The Strathglass, Kilmorack and Glenurquhart Community Councils along with Helen Carmichael and Margaret Davidson, our Highland councillors, have met with Forestry Commission Scotland senior management to discuss the issue of compulsory car park charges at four locations in Glen Affric. The FCS’s scheme is strongly opposed by all the local communities, businesses and trades as it is seen as detrimental to the economic and social viability of the Strathglass area.
The initial opposition in February and March 2012 resulted in the charges being suspended pending consultation. Charges were scheduled to start on 1st April. The first stage of consultation took place at a meeting in Cannich on 15th June.
The meeting is seen as having been productive.
The good news is that all the opponents to the scheme have persuaded FCS not to implement any form of car parking charge, for the moment, until there are further discussions over the many issues that were raised.
Although the above opponents asked FCS to simply remove the machines and drop the car park charge there was also a hard push for a voluntary scheme to be implemented in order to pay for the considerable amount of money that has recently been invested within the NNR and at Plodda Falls. Among other things, this scheme would need to be backed up by display boards informing the public of the work and conservation being done in the area and therefore encouraging them to pay.
FCS accepted that there had been a breakdown in communication with all the local communities over the issue and were keen to try and develop a local forum through which they could operate in order to overcome issues as and when they arise.
The forum suggested would be those who were present at the meeting which could perhaps meet formally twice a year. At present the Strathglass Marketing Group would be the first contact for FCS to channel information through to the wider community.
Graeme Prest the new Inverness, Ross & Skye District Manager has come up from the Lake District where he developed an excellent relationship between tourism and forestry and he is keen to try and replicate the relationship throughout the local district.
FCS have agreed to consider our objections as well as our suggestions and will return to us in 6-8 weeks for a meeting to further discuss the issues.