A troubled charity set up to help promote access to Britain’s highest mountain has taken the first steps to re-establish itself with the earmarking of National Lottery cash for its projects.
The Nevis Partnership will get more than £1,850,000 if it satisfies the demands of the Heritage Lottery Fund in the near future for its work on Ben Nevis and the surrounding area.
In March this year, the partnership announced it was suspending its activities after it failed to secure Lottery cash.
But now, the Heritage Lottery Fund has agreed in principle to set aside £1,851,900 in what it terms a ‘first-round pass’ for the Nevis Landscape Partnership.
The group has been given £75,800 to develop its plans to apply for a full grant at a later date.
A spokesperson for the Nevis Partnership, which includes the Mountaineering Council of Scotland, Forestry Commission Scotland, Fort William Community Council, Glen Nevis Estate, Glen Nevis residents, Inverlochy and Torlundy Community Council, John Muir Trust, Rio Tinto Alcan, Scottish Natural Heritage, sportscotland and Highland Council, said: “The project aims to engage visitors and local communities in all aspects of heritage conservation and management within the unique and diverse landscape character of the Nevis area.
“By improving access and engaging people, it is hoped that all who live, work and play in the area will feel a greater connection with the heritage of this internationally important area.”
The development phase will start as soon as possible and will run to 2014 when the main five-year project is expected to start.
A new manager and administrator will be recruited immediately to coordinate information gathering, specialist surveys of key species, development of a programme of training and learning opportunities and to strengthen links between schools, West Highland College University of the Highlands and Islands and local employers to provide work placements and work experience opportunities.
The partnership said further specialists will be engaged where necessary to train and work alongside volunteers.
Patricia Jordan, chair of Nevis Partnership, said: “We are delighted with this endorsement of the Nevis area, which will allow locals and visitors alike to become involved in a wide range of heritage projects in this important international location.
“We are also very pleased that the Heritage Lottery Fund has recognised the considerable achievements of the Nevis Partnership, which will now be widened to include other interest groups and organisations.”
The project will include restoration of the lower half of the Ben Nevis mountain track, an archaeological excavation at the vitrified hill fort of Dun Deardail and extensive work to protect and extend habitats of endangered plants, animals, birds and butterflies.
Details of all the partnership’s landscape and environmental work will be made available in various media formats and the importance of the Gaelic language to the interpretation and understanding of the area will be emphasised.
Colin Mclean, head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Scotland said: “Ben Nevis is one of the best known and most climbed mountains in the UK.
“We are delighted to show our initial support for a project which will allow people to really enjoy the stunning natural heritage that Scotland has to offer, safe in the knowledge that they are not causing damage to the landscape.”
A partnership spokesperson explained: “An earmarked first-round pass means that money has been set aside by the Heritage Lottery Fund for the scheme in question.
“Competition at this stage is tough, and while it does not guarantee funding, it is an indication of positive support. The applicant then progresses to the second round and submits a further, fully-developed application to secure the full award.”