Council shells out to install and remove parking spaces at beauty spot

Plastic bollards now line the roadside at Loch Morlich after work to install parking spaces was halted by environmental campaigners.

Over £170,000 of taxpayers’ money has been spent installing and then removing parking spaces at one of Scotland’s most popular beauty spots.

Prominent plastic bollards now line the roadside at Loch Morlich in the Cairngorms Park in an effort to deter drivers.

Work to install dedicated parking spaces beside the loch was abruptly halted last year after environmental campaigners intervened.

They had complained that the work had inflicted catastrophic damage to ancient trees and fragile plant life.

Highland Council, the Cairngorms National Park Authority and another Scottish Government agency Forestry and Land Scotland have since planted bollards on a long stretch of the road.

The council’s convener Bill Lobban described the decision as “horrendous”.

He said: “This is meant to be the jewel in the crown in the national park and what we’ve got is something like outside a major motorway with all these bollards. It’s ridiculous.

“Since the bollards have gone in, people have been driving over the top of them. They’re now parking on the opposite side of the road, which we’ve always tried to avoid.

“We’re trying to keep traffic flowing through Glenmore and now they’re parking on the opposite side of the road again.”

Tess Jones, a member of the Badenoch & Strathspey Conservation Group which added: “We welcome the reinstatement work being done and we believe that was undertaken carefully.

“But we’re disappointed that the agencies didn’t manage to get the work prescribed by technical expert – an arboriculturist – done within the dormancy period of the trees, which is what the recommendation was.”

Forestry and Land Scotland which owns the land that was used is working with the other organisations to seek a solution.

It includes discussions with the council about eight car parking areas it currently provides and how they can best be managed.

It also plans to open the nearby “Hayfield” as a temporary overflow car park on the busiest days this summer, once the council grants permission.

Local businessman Neil Highmore, who owns Loch Morlich Watersports, said:  “It’s appalling. We’ve people in Aviemore eating out of foodbanks and the council’s wasting £170,000 on a problem they created themselves.

“It’s been really detrimental to our business. The council have mucked up the parking thoroughly and made the place look terrible with their bollards.”

He urged the local authorities to reinstate the original, informal parking to ease congestion in the busiest weeks.

Highland Council’s economy and infrastructure committee chairman Ken Gowans promised to work with the local community to sort the issue.

Asked if the financial waste was an embarrassment, he said the costs of such projects in the future would ultimately be funded by a “transient visitor levy”.

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