BMC adds its voice to complaints against unnecessary foot and mouth closures

In a letter to Sam Galbraith, MSP and Minister for Environment, Sport and Culture at the Scottish Executive, the BMC has added its voice to that of the Mountaineering Council of Scotland in crying foul over the unfiar treatment of climbers in combating the spread of foot & mouth disease.The letter follows a disappointing international meet at Glenmore lodge, where climbers from all over the world had to sit inside, despite excellent climbing conditions. All the more galling was the decision to allow ski runs to operate for what would appear to be commercial reasons, despite the fact that climbing and mountain walking in the region ´is worth ten times more annually to the Scottish rural economy than the skiing industry´, according to Glenmore Lodge.

6 March 2001 Sam Galbraith, MSP Minister for Environment, Sport and Culture The Scottish Executive Victoria QuayEdinburghEH6 6QQFoot and Mouth Outbreak and Sporting EventsThe BMC believes that the Scottish Executive´s press statement on Friday 2 March (SE0518/2001) is inconsistent in the treatment of different sports, is equivocal in the guidance it gives to individuals, and therefore puts the mountaineering bodies in an untenable position concerning support for foot and mouth access restrictions. I am therefore writing to urgently request that you review the position taken.Many BMC members live in or visit Scotland, in particular during the winter. So, in line with advice from the Scottish Executive last week, the BMC strongly urged climbers, hill walkers and mountaineers to stay out of the countryside. Last Wednesday, under the specific direction of the Scottish Executive, a major week long International climbing event organised by the BMC and Mountaineering Council of Scotland being hosted at Glenmore Lodge (Sportscotland´s National Mountaineering Centre) restricted its activities to the Lodge and a climbing wall in Inverness. Also, the Scottish winter programme of Plas y Brenin (Sport England´s National Mountaineering Centre) was curtailed with the final safety training courses of the year cancelled. The restriction from Scotland´s unique ice climbing was a considerable disappointment for our visitors from around Europe and as far away as China, South Africa and the USA. However, they were happy to support the restriction and the need to help protect agriculture (see attached statement from the meet). But there was also amazement amongst the international guests (and members of the BMC) that skiing was allowed to continue on hills which were restricted for ice climbing and winter mountaineering.Given the above it appears that double standards are being applied for access to parts of the Scottish Highlands, in particular Aonach Mor, Aonach Beag and the Cairngorms. BMC members can not be expected to support access restrictions that without reasonable justification do not equally apply to all user groups. Hence, I urgently request that you review the position of the Scottish Executive so that the BMC can re-assure members that access restrictions are reasonable and should be supported. The BMC would like to work with the Scottish Executive for the benefit of Scotland including support for climbing and hill walking, which is the major contributor to the Highland economy.Yours sincerely Roger Payne General Secretary