Tuesday 31st May 2022, 1:35pm
We were delighted to welcome Ross Cadie to the Mountain Safety team, taking on the position of Senior Mountain safety Advisor and he popped into the Granary at the start of the month to meet some of the team and also start his formal induction to the organisation. Ross brings a wealth of experience both as a professional instructor and as a voluntary member of Arrochar MRT and as well as overseeing the delivery of our courses and public safety messaging he will also be supporting the strategic work of the Mountain Safety Group
There was a significant amount of preparation for the Board meeting on the 5th of May which for the first time since the pandemic was held as a face-to-face meeting with opportunity for Directors to also dial in virtually. There was a short pre meeting at the Granary with an opportunity for Directors to connect in person before heading over to the AK Bell Library in Perth where the meeting took place. There were several important items on the agenda including the approval of the final strategic framework, the draft operational plan, signing off the end of year financial report and setting the budget for 2022/23.
At the meeting we also updated Directors on some further staffing changes with both our Member Services Officer Jane Anderson (pictured left) and our Finance Officer Denise Logan (pictured right) planning to retire from Mountaineering Scotland after 16 years’ service. These are critical positions ensuring the smooth running of the back office whilst also acting as a first point of contact for member enquiries and both Jane and Denise have made a significant contribution in helping to grow the organisation during their time with us. We have been reviewing and updating the role descriptions to enable the recruitment process to begin!
As a flavour of Jane’s role in the organisation, she described “a fairly routine month” in which some of her main tasks were:
· Sent Membership packs to 175 new individual members
· Sent membership cards to 478 renewing individual members
· Assisted clubs with the renewal process and acknowledged payment by 50 clubs
· Setup and managed bookings for courses and competitions
Our CEO Stuart Younie also met with his counterpart from the BMC Paul Davies this month to discuss areas of shared interest which included membership numbers, the participation statistics from the Sport England Active Lives survey and future plans to support climbing walls and develop the coaching workforce. Stuart also chaired the regular meeting of the CEO Forum for Outdoor and Adventure sports and the hot topics for discussion included the new Outdoor Tourism Strategy which was being developed by the adventure tourism bodies Wild Scotland and Sail Scotland, the high-level discussions taking place on the future of visitor management and the ongoing impact of storm damage to forests on access and particularly on MTB trails and orienteering courses.
We took part in Mental Health Awareness Week at the start of May, sharing a variety of resources online and on social media, including a blogpost by campaigner Ross Cunningham.
Mountaineering Scotland isn’t alone in having concerns how Historic Environment Scotland are managing access in Holyrood Park. We joined with The Cockburn Association, Ramblers Scotland and Scotways in writing a letter to the CEO of Historic Environment Scotland, seeking a meeting to discuss their actions in restricting access. We have just been offered a meeting with senior staff in late June.
With the summer climbing season fast approaching, we are concerned that removal of the verge obstructions has been slow and may cause parking problems for both climbers and residents. We contacted the newly-elected Councillors for the area requesting their assistance in seeking a solution to the matter, firstly to clear the verge obstructions and reinstate the traditional parking space, and secondly to find dedicated parking space to avoid this happening again in future. The Councillor representing the area got in touch and will discuss with the Community Council. We asked for a quick pragmatic solution to aid visitors with parking this summer. Watch out for updates on our social media.
In the last month, we have looked into 7 large windfarm proposals. Three were at an early scoping stage, two of which would not impact on mountaineering interests, but one proposed for south-east of Ben Wyvis demands closer scrutiny.
Two were revised turbine layouts from existing applications, in an attempt by the developers to limit environmental dis-benefits and one a new proposal in Caithness. The seventh was a pre-application consultation, for another windfarm in the increasingly cluttered and straggled windfarm landscape around Loch Shin.
In total this amounts to 44 turbines of 149.9m to blade tip height, 10 of 180m bth, and 52 of 200m bth. The question we wish to ask the Scottish Government is how large a turbine is too large for Scotland’s uplands? Some policy direction here would be useful.
With spring now well established even in the mountains, we started to reach out to members and other hillgoers, promoting our Minimal Impact advice, making the point that maximum fun can still be had with minimum impact. And making minimal impact a personal matter too, we were happy to support the Melanoma Fund by publicising Melanoma Awareness Month with a targetted article discussing the risks of melanoma for hillwalkers and climbers.
We ran our first Going the Extra Mile courses, programmes of basic hill skills courses for people aged between 18 and 25 years of age who enjoy exploring the hills and mountains of Scotland, and would like to learn the basic skills needed to help them gain confidence and stay safe when hiking. These and future GTEM courses are run in memory of Sarah Buick, who tragically died in an accident on Ben Nevis.
At the same time we ran a number of our ever-popular standard mountain navigation courses. For people with an eye to rock climbing, we have also been running Ready to Rock courses for adults and RealRock for younger climbers.