Study will explore private sector investment at Leanachan Forest

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Forestry Commission Scotland is to explore the viability for a private sector tourism and leisure related development opportunity within Leanachan Forest, near Fort William.

The move follows a study undertaken in 2008 by Highlands and Islands Enterprise which identified the forest, located next to the access road to Aonach Mor, as having development potential.

Leanachan covers 7,300 acres of national forest land and is a popular draw for tourists. The area provides access to The Nevis Range, world class mountain biking, scenic walking trails and has helped gain the area “Outdoor Capital of the UK” status.

A feasibility study will explore the viability of attracting private sector investment in a new sustainable leisure and accommodation development on the national forest estate.

 Alan Stevenson, Forestry Commission Scotland’s Head of Communities, Recreation and Tourism said:

“Leanachan is already a very popular destination for tourists who enjoy the natural and rugged terrain that Lochaber offers.  We estimate that around 40 per cent of visitors coming to Fort William are there for the great outdoors and many of these are repeat visits. 

“Both HIE and Highland Council have indicated that Leanachan has potential for tourism development. The Commission is happy to help explore this further but in a way which is sympathetic to the environment and local needs.

“The study will look into current and future trends in tourism, demands for related property and infrastructure in the area and whether or not a new commercial leisure and tourist development is a viable option. “

The feasibility study has two parts to it with one section looking at Leanachan and the other exploring development opportunities in the Tweed Valley Forest Park in the Scottish Borders.
Forestry Commission Scotland is leading on the feasibility study with support from Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise. Consultants GL Hearn have been appointed to carry out the study with the findings being published later in Spring 2010.

Notes to news editors

1. Forestry Commission Scotland serves as the Scottish Government’s forestry directorate

2. Scottish Development International is the Scottish Government’s inward investment agency as well as being responsible for helping Scottish companies grow internationally.

3.   Media enquiries to Steve Williams, Forestry Commission Scotland press office 0131 314 6508.