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Speyside Way extension likely to go ahead

The Cairngorms National Park (CPNA) has decided to go ahead with the proposed extension of the Speyside Way to Newtonmore despite objections from one landowner. Last Friday (14 May) the National Park Authority’s Board approved the making of a ‘Path Order’ under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 which if given Ministerial approval will allow the path to be built without the land owner’s consent.

This decision follows years of work on the proposed route and approval ‘in principle’ in 2009 from the Scottish Government to extend the Speyside Way through the Cairngorms National Park. The work has included negotiations with land owners and gathering supporting material for a planning application. The biggest challenge had been finding the best route between Aviemore and Dalraddy. To try and find the best solution over this section, public consultations were undertaken. The results were then analysed and the CNPA board recommended a route to Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH). They in turn prepared a report for Scottish Government Ministers who approved the route in 2009. Negotiations to secure agreements with land managers have progressed well with the exception of those at Kinrara Estate just south of Aviemore, who remain opposed to the proposed line of the route. If the proposed Path Order is approved then it is planned that the extension will open in 2014.

Senior outdoor access officer at the CNPA Bob Grant said: “The CNPA has worked alongside key partners to develop the best route that was initially drawn up by Scottish Natural Heritage. The route will have wide ranging community and economic benefits from opening up a range of new possibilities for how local people and visitors get around the Park, to shops, hotels and pubs that are likely to experience the business benefits of being located close to it.”

At the meeting, the CNPA Board also approved an ‘in principle’ contribution of up to £250,000 towards the estimated £1million capital costs of developing the extension subject to a detailed funding package involving other partners.

David Green, the CNPA’s Convener said: “It is great to see progress being made on a facility that will allow several communities to get around the Park in a more sustainable and environmentally friendly way. While it won’t be an all abilities path, it will cater for a range of users including walkers, cyclists and runners.

“Although 2014 may seem a long way off, I would ask local communities to be patient and keep up to date with progress either through their Community Council or the Speyside Way section of the CNPA website.”

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