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Lurchers Gully 1991 Document (81+91 Maps)
Posted by: alan who has made 10747 posts. (IP Logged)
Date: 14.15hrs on Thu 22 Jun 06

This post contains the complete text of the 1991 Cairngorm Chairlift Company document "Lurchers Gully - The Case for Ski Development".

[PAGE 1]


As Scotland's premier Ski Area, Cairngorm serves more than half the total Scottish skiing market. Yet over the last decade it has not been able to realise its full potential, despite rapidly increasing pressure of demand.

The north-facing slopes and
corries of Cairn Gorm have been known to skiers for nearly 100 years.

Natural runs with varying degrees of difficulty and excellent snow-holding, ease of access and an existing infrastructure of hotels, roads and railways-all these made the area ideal for development when the 1950's brought mechanical uplift to Scotland.

A start was made when a group of local hoteliers ahd businessmen, supported by the Scottish Council of Physical Recreation, founded the Cairngorm Winter Sports Development Board (the forerunner of the Cairngorm Chairlift Company) .

The Board raised money towards a new road from Glenmore to Coire Cas, leased the Cairngorm Estate from the Forestry Commission, and in J 961 built the first chairlift of the new Ski Area.

From the start, Lurcher's Gully was one of the four areas planned for development. The plan was to begin in Caire Cas and the White Lady, then to move on to Caire na Ciste. Expansion to Lurcher's Gully would finally complete the Ski Area.

In 1971 the Forestry Commission sold the Cairngorm Estate to the Highlands and Islands Development Board (with the agreement of the Nature Conservancy Council and the Countryside Commission for Scotland) for winter sports development.

Development continued in the first three areas until 1979. Demand for downhill skiing facilities was growing fast and it was clear that expansion would be required at all the Scottish ski areas. To.
meet the demand, the Cairngorm Chairlift Company planned its final development, with Lurcher's Gully as a first stage followed by in-filling in the two Northern Corries, Coire an t­Sneachda and Coire an Lochain.

The plans went to a Public
Inquiry in 1981. Eventually the Secretary of State for Scotland refused permission for the development as proposed, but stated that a more limited scheme might represent an acceptable compromise in the future.


Since the Public Enquiry there
has been continued discussion, consultation and compromise on westward expansion at Cairngorm:

- In J 984 the Secretary of State fulfilled the commitment he made after the Inquiry by publishing National Planning Guidelines for Skiing Developments. These listed Cairngorm as a priority area for further development.

- In 1986 the Cairngorm Chairlift Company prepared an outline Development Plan.

-In 1987 the Highland Regional Council set up a Working Group which consulted a wide range of interested parties.

- In 1988 the Working Group's recommendations for a limited development in Lurcher's Gully were accepted by the Council and incorporated in their Draft Structure Plan Review.

- In 1989 the Structure Plan Review went out for public consultation. Nearly 6,000 representations were made on the subject of Lurcher's Gully, with a majority of 58% in favour of ski expansion.

But during the years of
discussion, consultation and compromise, only two major new lifts have been built at Cairngorm, while demand has continued to grow"

[Page 2]


So why is Lurcher's Gully so important? Reliable
snow and sheltered slopes for beginners and intermediate skiers will provide a proper balance of facilities in the Ski Area. Increased capacity will help to cope with existing numbers when space is restricted by weather conditions.

Weather Conditions

In good weather conditions there is room for over 6,000 skiers on the slopes at Cairngorm. But in strong winds or when snow is scarce, many of the lifts and runs cannot be used. The result is overcrowding, long queues and disappointed skiers.

Lurcher's has reliable snow and sheltered slopes. Its extra space will help to reduce crowding in poor conditions.

Beginners and Intermediate Skiers There is a shortage of easy slopes at Cairngorm for beginners and intermediates. Those that do exist are vulnerable to high winds and early thaw.

The sheltered and reliable slopes in Lurcher's would give excellent intermediate skiing for about 1,200 skiers, a 20% increase over the present capacity of the Ski Area. The access would also open up large areas of low­lying beginners' slopes.

Car Park Capacity

The capacity of the car parks determines the maximum number of skiers at Cairngorm. The car parks will not be enlarged to increase the total numbers;
the existing number of skiers will be spread out more comfortably on the slopes.

Caire laagh Mar

Expansion eastward into Coire Laogh Mor cannot provide a substitute for Lurcher's. The upper slopes of Coire Laogh Mor are exposed to the wind and its lower slopes do not hold snow well. It is half the size of Lurcher's and not suitable for beginner or intermediate skiers.

Additional Skier-Days

Although the maximum capacity of the Ski Area will not be increased, its effective capacity in poor conditions will be enlarged. This will allow up to
100,000 extra skier days to be accommodated each season, an increase of 25 % over current figures.

The skiing industry is worth more than £ 12 million
to the local economy each winter. More local jobs will certainly to created by developing lurcher's Gully. Failure to expand will undoubtedly continue to create customer dissatisfaction, affect the image of the area, and put existing jobs at risk.

Re: Lurchers Gully 1991 Document (81+91 Maps)
Posted by: alan who has made 10747 posts. (IP Logged)
Date: 14.19hrs on Thu 22 Jun 06

[Page 3]


A short chairlift at low level serving a long double ski-tow in the Gully; a single base building; and access by single-track private shuttle-bus road.

Uplift and Pistes

The facilities proposed in Lurcher's Gully include a 400m long chairlift rising from the foot of the Gully to meet a 1,300m long double ski-tow running up to a point below the top of the Gully.

The main pistes will run down both sides of the double ski-tow and each side of the chairlift using the natural snow­holding of Lurcher's Gully. In conditions of poor snow cover, the chairlift will give access to the ski-tow as long as the runs it serves are open.

Some snow/fences will be needed, but the excellent snow holding of the area will allow them to be kept to a minimum.

The Base Building

A single base building at the foot of the Gully will house catering, toilet first aid and maintenance facilities, and a garage for a piste machine. It will provide shelter in the most unlikely event that the shuttle-bus road is blocked.


The single-track shuttle-bus road will be
just under 2km long. The shuttle-bus system will be an extension of the service which has been provided for several years between the car parks at Caire Cas and Caire na Ciste-and over a similar distance-using the Chairlift Company's own buses and snow­clearing equipment. Apart from emergency services, no other vehicles will use the road.

The shuttle-bus will stop on request anywhere along the road. This will open up the fine low-level nursery slopes along the line of the road and will enable the full length of the run down the Caire at t-Sneachda burn to be used-at present this is closed when skiers cannot regain Caire Cas on snow.


The building, uplift machinery and shuttle-bus road have all been carefully sited for minimum visual impact. Computer-generated If intervisibility studiesl/. have been used extensively in developing the layout.

Finally of course, it is the declared policy of the Cairngorm Chairlift Company that the access road and all the facilities in Lurcher's Gully will be completely closed outside the skiing season.

Edited 1 times. Last edit at 14.20hrs Thu 22 Jun 06 by alan.

Re: Lurchers Gully 1991 Document (81+91 Maps)
Posted by: alan who has made 10747 posts. (IP Logged)
Date: 14.27hrs on Thu 22 Jun 06

[Page 4]


The outcome of the 1981 Public Inquiry was in effect an invitation to "think again and come up with a better scheme" for westward expansion at Cairngorm.

So how do the new proposals differ from those turned down in 1981, and how have the objections made then been taken into account?

In 198 I the proposals would have catered for 4,000 additional skiers in the Northern Corries of Coire an t-Sneachda and Coire an Lochain, as well as Lurcher's Gully

and Now
Today's proposals will cater for only 1,200 skiers in Lurcher's Gully itself, with a few hundred beginners on the new nursery slopes. These will not be additional skiers, but spread from other runs.

In 1981. new car parks were planned for an additional 1,000 cars, which would have added up to 4,000 skiers to the slopes

Today there are no proposals to create new car parking, so maximum skier capacity will not be increased.

The 1981 proposals included ski-lifts. ski-tows and buildings in the two Northern Corries of Coire an t-Sneachda and Coire an Lochain.

Today there are no such proposals. The Cairngorm Chairlift Company recognises the conservation value of the Northern Corries, and their use by mountaineers, walkers, and cross-country skiers.

In 1981 the ski-tow in Lurcher's Gully was planned to run prominently along the ridge, and the buildings were visible from many angles

Today's proposals conceal the ski-tow within the Gully, and the single multi-purpose building has been kept at low level. It is sited in a hollow where it is naturally shielded from view.

The new plans differ from the 1981 proposals both in scale and in sensitivity-much smaller scale, and much greater sensitivity to impact on scenery, the environment and other users of the area.

The 1981 Plans


The most contentious part of the new plans is inevitably the access by any form of road-it runs against a "presumption" in the National Planning Guidelines against "road extensions beyond the present. car parks" at Cairngorm. But a "presumption against" is not a prohibition

It simply tells a Planning Authority that a particular feature should not be allowed unless it can be shown to have positive advantages over all other alternatives sufficient to overcome the Initial presumption

The practical alternatives to a road for access are ski-tows or a chairllft or gondola system.

Why not a Ski-tow?

Because of their low altitude, ski tows between COlre Cas and Lurcher's would need extensive snow fencing which would be visually intrusive. Supplying the faCIlities at Lurcher's, evacuation of casualties and general evacuation in deteriorating weather conditions would be more difficult.

Even with continuous snow fencing, access tows would lose their snow cover when the Gully still had many weeks of sklng left. Most important beginners who could not yet use ski tows would be denied access to the nursery slopes which a road would open up.

Why not a Chairlift or Gondola

A chairllft or gondola system also has disadvantages The necessary pylons in a straight line would be very visible, and It would be vulnerable to high winds. Access to the new nursery slopes would only be possible from either end of the system.

Private access

With no public access a private shuttle-bus road can be a narrow single track road, reducing its visual impact. With present-day practices it can be made very unobtrusive and designed to follow the contours of the hill.

A road would be kept operational even in very severe conditions by the Company's own snow­clearing equipment. Supplying the area, evacuating casualties and general evacuation would be as straightforward as possible.

Operationally the road is clearly superior to either ski-tows or a chairlift or gondola, especially for beginners Only the shuttle-bus road option can effectively open up the much needed nursery areas.

So the Cairngorm Chairlift Company is convinced that the particular advantages of the shuttle-bus road will be strong enough to overcome th!!, presumption against road extensions in general.

Edited 1 times. Last edit at 14.29hrs Thu 22 Jun 06 by alan.

Re: Lurchers Gully 1991 Document (81+91 Maps)
Posted by: alan who has made 10747 posts. (IP Logged)
Date: 14.35hrs on Thu 22 Jun 06

[Page 5]


To follow... Scanner didnt like the smaller fainter text on this page!

[Back Cover]

The Background

* Development of Lurcher's Gully was planned 30 years ago as the final phase of theCairngorm Ski Area.

*The J 981 Public Inquiry turned down ambitious proposals for Lurcher's Gully and the Northern Corries, but left the door open for a more limited development in Lurcher's Gully alone.
The new plans are the fruits of wide-ranging consultation and discussion over the past eight years.

Skiing Needs Lurcher's

* Lurcher's provides reliable snow on sheltered slopes-ideal for beginner and intermediate skiers.

*Lurcher's is essential to help spread the existing number of skiers and reduce congestion at Cairngorm.

* Eastward expansion cannot provide either the capacity or the type of skiing required to complete the Ski Area.

Changed Plans

*The new plans are smaller in scale and greater in sensitivity;
- No lifts, tows and buildings in the Northern Corries.
- No extra skiers in the Ski Area, but existing numbers spread out.
- No JOOO-car car parks, in fact no new car parking at all.
- No two-lane public road, but a single track private access.
- Only one building, not five.

What's at Risk?
* There is nothing unique in Lurcher's Gully. The flora, fauna and geomorphology can all be found in other parts of the Cairngorms.

*There will be no easier access to the plateau or NNR. Existing routes are much shorter.

*Visual impact will be very limited-by design, including independent environmental impact assessment.

Whose Money?

* Development of Lurcher's is not dependent on public funds.

Keep it in Proportion

* Skiing takes only a very sma area. At 400 hectares Lurcher's is no threat to the wilderness of the Cairgorms which covs over 45,000 hectares.


Edited 1 times. Last edit at 14.36hrs Thu 22 Jun 06 by alan.

Re: Lurchers Gully 1991 Document (81+91 Maps)
Posted by: Big Sly who has made 504 posts. (IP Logged)
Date: 17.46hrs on Thu 29 Jun 06

Wow those 1981 plans look mad! Not only would they have ruins Sneachda and Lochain, but they would have been closed so often as well. Apart from the area around the double tow in Lurcher's, I don't think they are very "snowsure" areas. I may be wrong and would be happy to proved wrong, but the area around the ski tow on the west side of the lower Fiacaill ridge is often bare in my experience.

Re: Lurchers Gully 1991 Document (81+91 Maps)
Posted by: roga who has made 1123 posts. (IP Logged)
Date: 22.41hrs on Wed 12 Jul 06

I well remember the 1981 'controversy' over the Lurchers plan - it caused a lot of anger in hill walking circles as I recall.

Changed days now though with no talk of expansion rather the opposite sad smiley

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