With CairnGorm Mountain Ltd currently installing donation boxes around the perimeter of the the Coire Cas car park, an extension of the long established ‘carbon donation’ scheme. With a 2 year trial of a voluntary £2 parking fee ahead of a possible compulsory charge, the on-off debate about parking charges rages once more.
Coire Cas is the most popular point of access to the high tops of the Cairngorms and it’s use by non CML customers continues to grow, the occupants of the majority of vehicles who reach the Coire Cas car park around the year do not spend any money with CML. Yet despite being a public road, the car park is not part of the public road network, the maintenance of the carpark as well as snow clearing of both the car park and the whole hill road above the Glenmore Gates falls on CML.
As well as the obvious road related costs, there are also the provision of base facilities, the toilets, bins, the ranger base, the provision of information to all mountain users, the on going upkeep of the footpaths and indeed the removal of rubbish from CairnGorm. Considerable effort is expanded each year to remove sackfuls of rubbish from beyond the ski area, esp at the Ciste Mhearaidh and Coire an t-Sneachda (the infamous valley of turds and tea bags, two areas hugely popular for snow holing and from the vicinity of and indeed in the Shelterstone.
At present the full burden of the costs fall on CML’s paying customers, skiers, boarders, funicular visitors, those having a bite to eat in the cafe or purchasing from the shops. While at peak times each non paying customer taking up a space in the car park is a paying customer turned away at the Glenmore Gates, making it a double whammy for the operating customer. Providing a service to those who do not contribute, while turning away would be paying customers.
It’s difficult to argue that enabling anyone to drive slightly more than halfway up CairnGorm Mountain in the depths of winter CML are providing a valuable service to lots of walkers, ski tourers and climbers, plus of course commercial guides as well as to skiers, boarders and funicular users.
It is however not a service that is cheap to provide and costs are escalating. With Coire Cas already the principle access point to the Cairngorms and an apparent trend for increasing non customer use of the Cas Car park, surely it’s only fair that everyone who benefits from CML’s services make at least a modest contribution?