Innerleithen bike lift campaigners get land lease go-ahead

Innerleithen Uplift Forest Land Lease
Innerleithen Uplift Forest Land Lease
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A mountain bike lift at Innerleithen took a step forward last week when campaigners heard they can rent land for the facility.

Community charity AIMUp learned their application to lease part of Traquair and Elibank Forest, from Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS), for the lift and a toboggan run was successful.

Innerleithen Uplift Forest Land Lease

Innerleithen Uplift Forest Land Lease

AIMUp chairman Gordon Donald told councillors at last Wednesday’s meeting of the Tweeddale Area Forum that the charity has “in principle” agreements in place for all the land required.

He said the next major step was to secure funding for the estimated £5.5million development, which will include a visitor centre.

A spokesman for the group said: “The team has developed a model of multiple funding sources, and is pressing ahead with several applications to funding bodies, such as the lottery.

“It is believed the key to securing the funding is to be able to quickly identify and confirm an anchor funder for the project.”

Mr Donald called on Scottish Borders Council to help the charity find a major funder through providing access to government and European sources.

And he also hoped the local authority would formalise its help to AIMUp by creating a project team.

Mr Donald also said AIMUp members had visited the Wiegand factory in Germany to see one of the group’s preferred lift systems (Wie-li) and coaster toboggan ride.

The AIMUp spokesperson said: “The trip offered the AIMUp team a great chance to review the technical and construction requirements for the two systems.”

The representatives also saw an example of the Wie-li lift, which carries over 200,000 winter and summer visitors, at a ski resort near Frankfurt.

The spokesperson said: “The visit enabled the AIMUp team to determine how the system operates and assess the noise levels, operational requirements and get an understanding of how the system would fit into and benefit the Tweed Valley.

Wiegand have been manufacturing toboggans for more than 20 years and the AIMUp visitors saw and tried a 1,160m coaster similar in design and length to what they propose near Nuremberg.

The spokesperson said: “They could easily see how the coaster would make a great addition to the visitor attractions in the Tweed Valley.”

They added they were looking for a system that would fit into and benefit the Tweed Valley with low level design and low noise levels.

AIMUp’s Ian Campbell said: “We now have planning approval, ‘in principle’ lease approval for the land required to build the uplift, fantastic local support demonstrated by our community ballot in October 2012, as well as wide-ranging political support.

“Putting these all together, we have the firm base required by potential funders. This [the research visit] is another big step towards the realisation of the uplift.”

Site visits to rope and cableway companies are also planned.