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Our month: Mountaineering Scotland in November 2022

Wednesday 30th November 2022, 3:17pm

For our CEO Stuart Younie, November is one of the busiest months of the year. It started with the quarterly board meeting - which had a very full agenda covering the operational report, budget for 2023/24 updates on the review of the Mountain Safety Team and the future of Scottish Mountaineer – as well as final arrangements for the AGM on the 19th of November.

We also submitted our six-monthly update to sportscotland, evidencing our progress in delivering the objectives set out in our investment agreement. On the 8th of November, along with representatives from the Mountain Safety Group, Stuart met with the Minister for Public Health, Women's Health and Sport, Maree Todd, to explore potential support from the Scottish Government for developing a national action plan for mountain safety. Later that evening - working across international time zones - Stuart was invited to attend a newly established group to discuss mountain safety. With a particular focus on prevention of incidents, representatives from Canada, New Zealand and Tasmania were also on the call, and it was interesting to hear how similar the challenges were across the nations represented. Stuart also attended the AGM of the Cross Party Group on Outdoor Learning and chaired the CEO Outdoor Sports Group meeting, where the discussion covered developments relating to the establishment of a UK Outdoor Learning Association and the development of the Outdoor Tourism Strategy for Scotland.

Following Mountaineering Scotland’s successful AGM on the 19th of November, Stuart and our president Brian Shackleton attended a dinner with Minister Maree Todd, organised by the Scottish Sports Association, and offering a valuable opportunity to provide an update on the work of Mountaineering Scotland. This was followed by a trip to Glenmore Lodge alongside ClimbScotland’s Jamie Smith, with discussions about establishing a Climbing Development Group, progress across the ClimbScotland team and consideration of the implications stemming from changes taking place with the GB performance pathway.

Near the end of the month, Stuart attended an important meeting of the full CEO Sports Forum, where sportscotland provided an update on the challenging funding situation in the public sector for next year.

November finished on a positive note, as Stuart travelled up to the Dundee Mountain Film Festival and along with Dougie Baird the CEO of the Outdoor Access Trust for Scotland accepted the Scottish Mountaineering Trust Diamond Grant award. The significant contribution of £100k will kick start a three-year campaign to raise money for mountain path restoration titled “It’s Up to Us”

SMART Weekend

This month saw the Student Mountain Rescue and Training (SMART) weekend being held at Glenmore Lodge. This involved about 70 students from Scotland University’s walking, climbing and mountaineering clubs spending a weekend gaining valuable safety skills and knowledge. 

This event is kindly supported by Braemar Mountain Rescue Team and Glenmore Lodge but is also staffed by volunteers who give up their weekend to deliver sessions. A massive thank you to all involved!

Night Navigation 

Night Navigation courses were held in the Pentlands this month. These courses are great for giving people the skills and confidence to navigate in the hills once the sun has gone down- be that planned or unplanned. 

Inclusion in climbing

ClimbScotland have recently created formal partnership agreements with Urban Uprising and Common Wheel, focusing on our future collaborative working to make climbing more accessible and welcoming, as well as providing opportunities for people to progress through the sport and the array of opportunities/experiences it has to offer. 

That’s a wrap!

RealRock 2022 came to a close with a total of 54 young climbers (23 girls / 31 boys) attending our sessions this year. A full report, including RealRock dates for 2023, will be printed in the next issue of Scottish Mountaineer. 

2022 YCS Grand Final, Swindon

22 Scottish climbers attended the YCS Grand Final on the 26-27 Nov at Rockstar Climbing Wall in Swindon. Team Scotland came 5th overall all which is a fantastic achievement! Well done to all the athletes. A full report and photos of the action will be available soon on the ClimbScotland website.

Talent Pathway changes

The ClimbScotland team have been working closely with the team at GB Climbing around changes to the talent pathway that take effect in 2023. Proposed changes went out to consultation with athletes and parents, which has provided valuable feedback. Finalised changes, including selection policies will be published prior to Christmas. 

Ready to Rock

We have had an amazing year for our Ready to Rock sessions with 101 attendees, consisting of 70 women and 31 men. Similar to, but not to be mistaken for RealRock, these session support adult climbers looking to make the transition from indoor to outdoor climbing. 

Agriculture Bill

A fair bit of policy work took place this month, with numerous consultations out for comment. The Scottish Government’s forthcoming Agriculture Bill was important to comment on as it makes provision to provide for paths from rural development funding.

The Future of Scotland's National Parks

The Future of Scotland’s National Parks is out for discussion – our view is that we will encourage and support the policies and activities that lead toward creating a richer and wilder environment for the benefit of both nature and people. How National Parks deliver that depends on planning policy and how national forestry and agricultural support payments are set.

National Planning Framework 4

The National Planning Framework 4 has been published as a revised draft and laid before the Scottish Parliament for approval. This version differs substantially from the previous version in that Wild land Areas are now fair game for large wind turbine schemes. The new policy (4(g) on page 41 of NPF4) says that development proposals in areas identified as Wild Land Areas will only be supported where the proposal will support meeting renewable energy targets. This is a result of industry lobbying and is a quick change in policy that will be embedded for five years or more. 

There are plenty of areas that can take wind turbines without impinging on the mountains in Wild Land Areas. This is not yet a done deal as it has to go through Parliament, so if you care for wild land, email your MSPs right away protesting about this policy direction.