Visitors will be allowed to use the funicular to access the Cairn Gorm summit. Photo: David Briody CC-BY-ND-2.0

Visitors will be allowed to use the funicular to access the Cairn Gorm summit. Photo: David Briody CC-BY-ND-2.0

Councillors will be asked to allow a trial scheme for funicular users to walk to the summit of Cairn Gorm to be made permanent.

Rules were relaxed in 2010 to permit guided walks to the mountain summit from the top station of the railway, which was built controversially to take skiers to the slopes of the CairnGorm Mountain resort.

Opponents raised concern about the effect on the fragile mountain environment of abandoning the ‘closed system’ that had been in place since the opening of the funicular railway.

But Scottish Natural Heritage, the Scottish Government’s advisory body on the outdoors, said there will be no detriment to the European-designated area.

Members of the Highland Council’s planning, environment and development committee have been recommended to approve the change.

The approval is needed as part of the railway’s planning consent.

A report for the committee said: “Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the owner, is currently tendering for a new operator for the facility.

“It is likely that aspirations for further commercial opportunities will be discussed in this context. As a result there may be further requests to amend the [visitor management plan], or potentially the legal agreement itself.

“If these are likely to be substantial changes then further consultation may be deemed necessary.”

The Highland Council committee will meet in Inverness on Wednesday to decide the matter.

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