AFTER long-drawn out negotiations, a #15m package to secure and manage
the 77,500-acre Mar Lodge estate for the nation was finally sealed
yesterday with help from national lottery profits.
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The estate on Deeside, one of the most important conservation areas in
Europe, has been bought from businesman Mr John Kluge by the National
Trust For Scotland. The NTS will manage it with help from Scottish
The World Wild Life Fund Scotland said it was excellent news that Mar
Lodge would no longer be subject to the Russian roulette of the
international property market.
Mr Simon Pepper, head of WWF Scotland said the whole episode
demonstrated the scandalous situation in which ownership by a
conservation body is the only option for serious protection of
Scotland's natural heritage.
The estate, which is set in the heart of the Cairngorms, covers 117
square miles, contains four of the six highest peaks in Britain and 14
Munros. There are seven-listed buildings including Mar Lodge, whose
foundation stone was laid by Queen Victoria.
Its breath-taking scenery and natural beauty attracts visitors from
all over the world. Field sports enthusiasts come to the area for
shooting and fishing holidays.
The deal to buy the estate was secured after the Heritage Lottery Fund
agreed it would contribute more than #10m from lottery profits towards
its purchase and running costs.
Mr Kluge sold the estate for a sum of #5.5m -- believed to be at least
#5m below its market value. More than #4m of the purchase price came
from Edinburgh-based charity, The Easter Charitable Trust, with the rest
coming from the lottery funds
An #8m endowment scheme set up with the rest of the lottery money has
been started to help pay the long-term running costs. Other income will
come from shooting, fishing, and walking holidays on the estate.
Mar Lodge is likely to be turned into accommodation for field sports
enthusiasts. Furnished apartments in the lodge could cost around #600 a
week in the high season.
Despite the cash input from the lottery fund, the Easter Charitable
Trust, and Scottish Natural Heritage, there will still be a public
appeal for #1m to help pay for footpath building and other works.
The Scottish Secretary, Mr Ian Lang, said that the purchase was a
significant step towards achieving the sustainable management of this
very special area.
Lord Rothschild, chairman of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, said
that he was delighted that money from the lottery was going to preserve
one of the most extraordinary wild places in Scotland.
Mr Magnus Magnusson, chairman of Scottish Natural Heritage, who has
campaigned to secure the estate for public ownership for years, said it
had been described as the jewel in the Cairngorm crown, but that jewel
had become tarnished. He said it had been ''battered'' in recent years
and he was confident good management could improve things.
Mr Hamish Leslie Melville, chairman of the National Trust for
Scotland, said striking the balance between the conservation element of
the estate and the sporting side would not be a problem.
He said that a condition of the sale put on by Mr Kluge was that field
sports would be allowed to continue.
Mar Lodge was one of only two projects in Scotland which shared in the
#24.6m total pay-out from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The other was the Dundee Heritage Trust who were given #419,000
towards their plans to start an exhibition demonstrating jute
Twenty-five applications from Scotland for lottery money has been
received so far by the Heritage Lottery Fund, 9% of total applications.
Meanwhile, retailers suspected of National Lottery ticket fiddles were
yesterday warned that they could end up in court after organisers
Camelot took action against three more outlets over ''alleged
irregularities'' in sales of Instants tickets.
Camelot announced that retailers, in Essex, London, and Liverpool have
had their contracts terminated and equipment removed bringing the number
involved to five.
A second Liverpool retailer has been suspended from selling tickets
pending further investigation.