A worker bags stone at The Storr project. Photo: Outdoor Access Trust for Scotland

A worker bags stone at The Storr project. Photo: Outdoor Access Trust for Scotland

Work on improving access to an Isle of Skye beauty spot will restart shortly as the Scottish Government eases restrictions on construction sites.

The Highland Council’s pathway project at the Old Man of Storr involves renovating 600m of path to the site on the Trotternish peninsula.

Work is due to get underway on 22 June. Another project on the island, the building of new toilets at the Fairy Pools car park near Glen Brittle, has already resumed.

Both schemes are being managed by the Outdoor Access Trust for Scotland.

The main contractor for the Storr work had previously made progress before lockdown, with most path material bagged and ready for helicopter lift onto the hillside. Once the material has been lifted into the affected areas, works can commence to make the path fit for visitors and reduce the erosion and vegetation loss that has slowly been progressing over the years.

McGowan, the firm carrying out the work, has submitted proposals for safe working in compliance with the government’s Covid-19 guidance.

The Fairy Pools car park development is an independent project being run by Oats with the car park’s landowner, Minginish Community Hall Association.

Main contractor James McQueen is currently installing an off-grid sewage system and processing tank with sufficient capacity for 200,000 annual visitors. Oats expects the toilets to be fully operational, along with the recently completed 140-space car park by mid-August 2020. The car park is currently closed.

Highland Council independent elected member John Gordon welcomed the recommencement of work. He said: “Works at both these sites will make a significant difference for the enjoyment for locals and tourists alike, Not only will the work protect and care for the environment so there is better capacity and will help facilitate visitors at two very busy iconic areas.

“The partnership working has worked well and secured substantial funding which will continue beyond these works as we look at future projects.”

The Storr path renovation project is funded by both the Rural, Tourism and Infrastructure Fund and Scottish Government Rural Payments and Inspections Directorate. The Fairy Pools project secured funding from Leader, Highland Council, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, together with funds raised by Oats and the MCHA. The RTIF and Oats have funded the toilet block, phase two of the project.

Oats chief executive Dougie Baird said: “We have been working with contractors to find safe ways to get back to work on the path project at Old Man of Storr, both for workers and the wider community. We are delighted that this work is able to restart with appropriate procedures in place.”

Ewen MacPherson of the government directorate said: “It will be good to see this new substantial path to The Storr completed as soon as possible as it will provide walkers with a safer experience and will also significantly reduce damage to a corridor of natural habitat which has been increasing in recent years due to the lack of a singular route on the open hill area.”

Dave Till, chair of tourism management organisation SkyeConnect, said: “The resumption of work at the Fairy Pools and The Storr is good news for our potential visitors when we move to the latter phases of the Government’s plans for easing lockdown.

“We would appeal to members of the public to abide by the government’s instructions for the time being and stay away from these areas unless they are local residents.

“SkyeConnect will continue to work with Oats and other community bodies to achieve our goal of creating a safe and sustainable visitor experience on Skye.”

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