More than £20m to be invested in Cairngorms Mountain resort

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Image caption,

The funicular has been closed for two years

More than £20.5m of funding for the Cairngorm Mountain snowsports centre has been approved by the Scottish government.

About £16m of the funding will be used to repair the resort's funicular railway.

The UK's highest railway has been closed since September 2018 due to structural problems.

The government and public body Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) will provide the funding.

The railway connects a base station with a restaurant and a ski area 1,097m (3,599ft) up Cairn Gorm mountain near Aviemore.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise, which owns the railway, secured planning permission for the repairs from the Cairngorm National Park Authority earlier this year.

The Scottish government said the cost of removing the railway and reinstating the mountainside was estimated to cost about £17m.

'Unlocking potential'

More than £4m of the new investment is to be used for improvements at the ski centre, including upgrades of paths and car parks and the electrification of "cannons" used to distribute artificially-made snow.

Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said the government and HIE wanted to "unlock the full potential" of the site and to make it an year-round attraction.

He said: "We know our tourism and hospitality sectors have been among the hardest hit by the pandemic and in Badenoch and Strathspey a quarter of the workforce is in the accommodation and food services sectors - more than double the proportion for the Highlands and Islands as a whole.

"By investing in the mountain we can generate significant economic benefits for the local area and our tourism sector."

Highland Council has welcomed the funding announcement.

Leader Margaret Davidson said: "We recognise the importance of the Cairngorm area in terms of tourism and the environment."