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

Natural Heritage.

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

manufacture.

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.