15 Jun Work to Restart on Iconic Skye Sites
Following Scottish Government Guidance on returning to construction sites in Scotland, works are getting underway on two separate projects managed by the Outdoor Access Trust for Scotland (OATS) on the Isle of Skye. The Highland Council’s pathworks project at Old Man of Storr, managed in association with OATS, is due to re-start on Monday 22 June 2020. The works on the construction of toilet facilities at the Fairy Pools car park, near Glenbrittle, a project independently run and managed by OATS in partnership with the Minginish Community Hall Association (MCHA), has already resumed.
Principal Contractor for the renovation of 600m of the existing path to the Old Man of Storr, McGowan Ltd from Aviemore, had previously made good progress before lockdown, with the majority of path material bagged and ready for helicopter lift onto the hillside. Once the material has been lifted into the affected areas then works can commence to make the path fit for visitors and reduce the erosion and vegetation loss that has slowly been progressing over the years.
The works at Old Man of Storr are being project managed by The Highland Council’s Property Team, working alongside OATS. McGowan Ltd have submitted their proposals for safe working, encompassing social distancing, following guidance relating to Covid-19.
The Storr path renovation project is funded by both the Rural, Tourism & Infrastructure Fund (RTIF) and Scottish Government Rural Payments & Inspections Directorate (SGRPID).
The Fairy Pools car park development is an independent project being run by OATS in collaboration with the car park’s landowner, MCHA.
Principal contractor for the toilet block at The Fairy Pools car park, James McQueen, from Crossal, Isle of Skye, also working safely to Covid-19 guidelines, are currently in the process of installing an off-grid sewage system and processing tank with sufficient capacity for 200,000 annual visitors. OATS expect that the toilets will be fully operational, alongside the recently completed 140 spaces car park [closed at present], by mid-August 2020.
Funds were raised for the Fairy Pools project from a range of sources. The car park, phase one, was funded by LEADER, Highland Council, Highlands and Islands Enterprise; together with funds raised by OATS and MCHA. RTIF and OATS have funded the toilet block, phase two of the project.
Local Councillor John Gordon is delighted that the works are able to re-commence. He said: “Works at both these sites will make a significant difference for the enjoyment for locals and tourists alike, not only will the work protect and care for the environment so there is better capacity and will help facilitate visitors at two very busy iconic areas. The partnership working has worked well and secured substantial funding which will continue beyond these works as we look at future projects.”
Funding partner from SGRPID, Ewen MacPherson, said: “It will be good to see this new substantial path to the Storr completed as soon as possible as it will provide walkers with a safer experience and will also significantly reduce damage to a corridor of natural habitat which has been increasing in recent years due to the lack of a singular route on the open hill area”.
CEO of OATS, Dougie Baird, Contract Administrator for the Old Man of Storr project and Project Manager for the Fairy Pools project, said: “We have been working with contractors to find safe ways to get back to work on the path project at Old Man of Storr, both for workers and the wider community. We are delighted that this work is able to restart with appropriate procedures in place.’’
Dave Till, Chair of SkyeConnect is pleased to see the resumption of work at The Fairy Pools and The Old Man of Storr, said: “The resumption of work at the Fairy Pools and the Storr is good news for our potential visitors when we move to the latter phases of the Government’s plans for easing lockdown. We would appeal to members of the public to abide by the Government’s instructions for the time being and stay away from these areas unless they are local residents. SkyeConnect will continue to work with OATS and other community bodies to achieve our goal of creating a safe and sustainable visitor experience on Skye.”
Henrik Micski, Project Officer on behalf of Minginish Community Hall Association, said: “We are delighted work to finalise the toilet block has restarted. Although the current situation has removed visitor pressures on the site, the tourism industry has now been given a route out of lock down. It will be a welcome and much needed addition to the visitor experience, with increased environmental protection, if the toilet block is complete when visitors return.”