Reporting by Laura Alderman
One of the best places in the UK to view the Northern lights could lose its international status as a Dark Sky Park, less than one year after they obtained it according to Scotland’s foremost astronomer.
Professor John C Brown was at the opening ceremony in November 2018 when Glenlivet and Tomintoul Dark Sky Park was awarded gold-tier status.
He says that status is now in jeopardy, because neighbouring distilling giants Chivas Brothers want to build a “whisky tasting bothy” in the darkest area of the park.
“When I first heard last week that they were going to put this building right in the middle of the dark sky park I thought someone was joking, it just is over the top.
“If they were going to do that out in the periphery many miles away I would be more than delighted, but why on earth they want to put this in the crucial dark centre is very upsetting, astronomers are furious.”
The planning application was submitted last month to Cairngorms National Park Authority. The firm wants to construct a new tasting lodge and bothy experience, with attached overnight accommodation.
But locals fear if the plans are approved, it’ll put pressure on the fragile infrastructure of the area and have a devastating impact on wildlife and nearby businesses not affiliated with the distillery.
One local who didn’t want to be named told STV News, “You can see where we live at the moment and how unspoilt and peaceful this area is, to have this potential development operating seven days a week is going to change life significantly here, it will not be the place it currently is.”
Residents say they were given no notice of the plans, many of them hearing second hand only a few weeks ago.
They now have until Sunday to lodge their complaints with Cairngorm National Park Authority, who has called in the plans amid locals criticism.
Chivas Brothers said, “We are aware of some comments from local residents regarding our planning application for a tasting bothy near The Glenlivet Distillery.
“We take any concerns voiced by our neighbours and the Dark Sky community very seriously and we will be looking at the planning application to address these issues where possible.”