A multi-million pound tourism development in a Highland forest has been given the green light.

The £12 million Forest Holidays proposal for 50 eco-sensitive holiday cabins at Leanachan Forest has been approved by the Highland Council.

It forms part of the Forestry and Land Scotland 20-year, £25 million Nevis Forest Master Plan and is intended to supplement and complement the area's existing holiday offer and increase the economic contribution that the forest makes to the visitor economy.

Rural Economy and Tourism Secretary, Fergus Ewing, welcomed the the news: “This decision is excellent news for Lochaber and for Scotland. 

“The Nevis Forest Masterplan is a big idea for a big location. By creating a world-class destination that will serve as a focal point from which all the attractions of Fort William and wider Lochaber region can be explored, it has huge potential to bring more visitors to the area and encourage them to stay longer.

“It will be a positive step-change for the area that will create jobs, boost the local economy and position Lochaber in amongst Scotland’s top must-see locations.

“The development of the Forest Holidays’ cabins is the first step in this process and today’s decision marks the beginning of a renaissance for Lochaber’s tourism sector.”

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The Leanachan Forest development will follow on after two other Forest Holidays development projects – Delamere, due for completion in 2021, and Glentress, which will start work in autumn 2021.

Although ground works is still some time away, the project team will be working with the council, architects, engineers and land managers Forestry and Land Scotland to engage contractors, and look at site and utilities preparation to help inform the programme of works.

Bruce McKendrick, chief executive of Forest Holidays, added: “Nevis is a truly stunning area that will appeal to everyone seeking to explore Great Britain’s amazing landscapes and forests.

“We have worked with local stakeholders on our cabin development to ensure that it both complements and enhances the existing tourism offer and will bring hugely positive benefits to local businesses, attractions and other accommodation providers.

“Tourism will play a bigger role than ever in the months and years ahead, leading to increased demand for better and more varied accommodation in the Nevis region. Our proposal will help meet that demand and play a part in maximising the area’s economic potential. I’m grateful for the continued support of Forestry and Land Scotland and the Cabinet Secretary in particular in having the foresight to see the broader economic benefits Forest Holidays can bring to rural locations.”

Other elements in the Nevis Forest Master Plan that will follow in later years, and through other partnerships, could include a proposed hotel development, a camping offer, event parking and recreation and connectivity improvements.

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