In the Park

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“I’m sitting in front of my computer screen reading through the regular list of planning applications for the National Park when my thoughts are interrupted by a beep from my mobile phone.

Every fortnight the local authorities which impinge on the Park send in all the planning applications they receive for locations within the boundaries of the Park. The Park planning officers then scrutinise these applications.

Our first task as members of the Park Planning Committee is, with the help of advice from the planning officers, to identify those applications which might have a significant impact on the aims of the Park and to decide whether or not to call them in.

If we do call in an application then the CNPA Planning Committee becomes the planning authority for that application. In fact we call in relatively few applications, probably little more than 10% and of those that are called in, over 80% are accepted either as they are presented or with amendment and conditions. So we are not the hurdle to gaining planning permission that is often suggested.

This high success rate is largely due to our working closely with applicants at an early stage to encourage high quality sustainable design.

The interruption is a text message from my son in London saying: “They have been shooting scenes for the new Batman film around the Cairngorms”. He’s now thirty something and is still a fervent superheroes fan and Batman is his favourite. In fact he still wears the Batman T-shirt we gave him years ago and I suspect he dresses up our nine month old granddaughter in a Batgirl costume when my wife isn’t around! I check on the Internet and sure enough there are lots of references to stuntmen, clad in black, dropping by parachute from a black painted private jet on to the Cairngorm Gliding Club at Feshie Bridge - all part of the preparations for the making of the latest Batman epic “The Dark Knight Rises”, due for release next July.

It’s good to see that international film companies are discovering what a special place the Cairngorms National Park is. The mountains, lochs and villages provide a stunning backdrop for film makers which can’t be replicated anywhere else in the world. No wonder the word is spreading that the Cairngorms is the place to be. In fact it’s turning out to be a very good year for the Cairngorms. Back in January the National Park was listed by National Geographic Travellers Magazine among the top twenty places in the world to visit in 2011.

What’s this appearing on my screen now? A planning application to convert Aviemore into Gotham City? That would be a step too far. I think we’ll call this one in!”