MORE than half of the residents living in Staffin have responded to a survey about the future management of a visitor site at the Old Man of Storr.
The Staffin Community Trust (SCT) had asked residents for their views on its aspiration to purchase or manage Highland Council-owned land at the famous island landmark.
SCT directors helped hand deliver 255 questionnaires to local households and businesses last month (November) in a major community consultation. The local authority owns an 82-hectare site at the Storr from the roadside upwards. SCT has been in talks with officials about improving the visitor experience at the hugely popular location, which attracts people from all over the world. This could involve a new off-road main car park, toilets, interpretation and refreshment kiosk.
The deadline for the community consultation was Friday, November 29 and SCT was delighted that 139 replies were delivered – a 54.5 per cent response rate.
Early indications are that there is support for SCT managing or purchasing the site. SCT was also pleased to receive formal responses to the consultation from the Skye Mountain Rescue Team and VisitScotland. The SCT and council have now started analysing the responses and will publish a report documenting the results, which will be shared with the community, in the next few weeks.
The SCT views the Storr as a key gateway to Staffin and vital economic driver for shops, cafes, accommodation providers and other businesses. More than 100,000 people have already visited the Storr this year. Council-led traffic surveys have estimated that approximately 70 per cent of Storrvisitors continue north on the A855 road to Staffin.
SCT said it was a fantastic opportunity for the community to have a direct involvement at the site, potentially creating local employment and marketing Staffin and local businesses far more strongly. The SCT believes it is well placed and has the expertise to deliver, in partnership with the council and others, a ground-breaking project and create significant and regular income for the organisation to meet its sustainability targets with funds used for additional community projects in Staffin.
SCT chairman Donald MacDonald said: “I want to first thank the community of Staffin for the high number of responses submitted which clearly indicate that there is an overwhelming desire to see significant improvements at the Storr. This is such an important and iconic tourist location for the whole of Skye and should be seen as having huge economic benefit particularity for the communities to the north. Having seen the extremely positive response given by The Highland Council to the broad idea of development at this site we now need to engage the other agencies and Lottery to ensure that adequate funding is made available to make this one of the best visitor locations in Scotland.”
A council spokeswoman said: “The Highland Council are encouraged by the response rate and positivity of feedback. We continue to look forward to working in partnership with SCT to deliver a solution at Storr that benefits the community and visitors alike.”