Report: Highlands and Islands Enterprise: Management of Cairngorm mountain and funicular railway

To be published May 2020 by Auditor General

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) is the owner and custodian of Cairngorm Mountain, one of Scotland’s main snow-sports centres.  In 2018 the funicular railway at Cairngorm was closed after a routine inspection revealed structural issues and it has remained out of use since then. Cairngorm Mountain Ltd (CML), the private operator responsible for the operation of the mountain and funicular under a lease agreement, entered administration soon after the funicular closed. HIE subsequently negotiated a deal to take the assets and business of CML back into public ownership, and set up a subsidiary, Cairngorm Mountain (Scotland) Ltd (CMSL), to take over the operation of the mountain on its behalf.

Audit Scotland is carrying out an audit to assess the chain of events that led to HIE bringing the operation of the mountain back into public hands and to find out how it is taking forward plans for the future of Cairngorm Mountain and the funicular. The audit will examine HIE’s decision to transfer the operating company, CML, back to the private sector in 2014 and their subsequent relationship with CML until its administration in 2018. It will also consider HIE’s response to CML entering administration and how it is developing short and long-term plans for the mountain.

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