Glen Affric, used by many outdoor enthusiasts for trips lasting several days. Photo: Matthew Cross CC-BY-SA-2.0

Glen Affric, used by many outdoor enthusiasts for trips lasting several days. Photo: Matthew Cross CC-BY-SA-2.0

The Mountaineering Council of Scotland has accused a government agency of not thinking through the implications of recently introduced car parking charges at what it calls one of Scotland’s finest glens.

The council, which represents hillwalkers, climbers and mountaineers north of the border, said Forestry Commission Scotland had not consulted on the charges in Glen Affric.

The MCofS said the requirement of walkers to display parking machine tickets which advertise how long they may be away could help potential thieves, particularly as the venue, at the eastern end of the glen is often used for outdoor enthusiasts who park their vehicles there while undertaking expeditions lasting several days.

The mountaineering body also said it could deter visitors to the glen, which conflicts with one of the agency’s aims.

The MCofS said it had raised concerns with FCS because there appears to have been a lack of consultation both with local interests and those wishing to access the glen.

It said: “The FCS Inverness, Ross and Skye Forest District strategic plan 2009 to 2013 states that ‘community engagement is now very much an integral part of our work’ and that ‘more could be done to encourage access to forests’

“However the MCofS questions this commitment to consultation and encouragement of access and suggests that the introduction of this parking charge will only succeed in damaging visitor numbers.”

The MCofS has written to the agency asking for clarification on a number of points. It wants to know how the money raised will be spent; whether the charges are voluntary or mandatory and how this will be enforced.

It has also questioned how much consultation took place before the decision, and how the public can access information on how money generated will be spent.

MCofS chief officer said: “We are not against voluntary car parking charges where there is evidence that the funds will be used to support footpath or environmental work.

“Those criteria do not appear to be relevant in this case. There is simply no alternative parking place and we are also concerned at the security implications for someone who wishes to park their vehicle for more than one day and who is required by FCS to display a parking ticket which advertises their return date.”

Forestry Commission Scotland describes Glen Affric as a very special place which has been described as the most beautiful glen in Scotland. It said it contains one of the largest ancient Caledonian pinewoods in Scotland as well as lochs, moorland and mountains.

  • FCS has warned the River Affric car park will be closed for almost three weeks from Monday.

Resurfacing work from 12 March to 30 March mean the car park and Chisholme Bridge, on the road into the glen will both be closed.

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