SNAKING down the mountainside, the dramatic rollercoaster would offer thrill-seekers an unforgettable plunge through one of Scotland’s most stunning landscapes.

But ambitious plans to build a world-class, year-round resort in the Cairngorms – which include blueprints for a “mountain coaster” – already threaten to prove controversial with environmentalists.

A new study outlines a series of measures to boost winter visits and secure the future of snowsports in the area, while also introducing extra attractions to encourage summer trade.

The £27 million vision, which would be rolled out over five to ten years, includes constructing two new chairlifts out of the Coire Cas base area – both with the capacity to carry around 3,000 people per hour.

Bosses said the revamp, combined with increased snow-making technology, would create an additional 30 hectares of skiing area.

Meanwhile, a mountain coaster, zip-line tour and lift-served mountain biking experience would aim to attract adrenaline junkies over the summer months, transforming the Cairngorm mountain into a year-round resort.

Local Dave Morris, former director of Ramblers Scotland, said the proposals were a long time coming, and a good starting point for future conversations.

He said: “This is the first time I have really seen a comprehensive plan for the mountain since the 1960s. It’s long overdue in that sense.

“This resort has been around since the 1960s and it’s about time money was spent on it, to sort it out.”

It comes after The Herald on Sunday highlighted ongoing concerns over the future of Cairngorm’s ski slopes and the small Speyside town of Aviemore, nestled nearby.

Once the jewel in the crown of Scottish snowsports, local businesses and residents have recently voiced concerns following a slump in visitor numbers.

This has been exacerbated by technical problems with the mountain’s funicular railway, which mean it is widely expected to be out of action this winter.

In a bid to turn the resort’s fortunes around, Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) commissioned US consultancy, SE Group, to carry out an independent review. HIE owns Cairngorm mountain and the troubled funicular railway, having taken over from its predecessor body, the Highlands and Islands Development Board.

SE Group highlighted “immense unlocked potential at Cairngorm that can be unleashed with targeted, strategic investments”, and has now recommended a number of proposals to increase annual winter visitor numbers to 150,000.

But some are already anticipating pushback from environmental groups.

In the 1990s, plans for the mountain’s funicular ended up in court after strong opposition from WWF and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

Kenna Chisholm, regional conservation manager for RSPB Scotland, said: “CairnGorm Mountain is located within a very special natural environment, much of which is legally protected for its rare and vulnerable wildlife and habitats.

“These include the iconic and highly threatened capercaillie in the surrounding woodlands, and dotterel and montane plants on the fragile Cairngorm plateau.

“It is crucial that new development and increased recreation at Cairngorm mountain is not at the expense of this special natural environment, which is recognised by the report as a particular selling point for visitors.

“Some of the developments and infrastructure recommended in the report are very substantial with significant implications for the environment, which will need to be very carefully considered.”

SE Group’s study involved an analysis of current operations at Cairngorm, as well as the market context and consultation with local businesses and public bodies.

It argued the site’s funicular, which carries large volumes of winter visitors every year, was “unique to Cairngorm” and recommended it continued to be improved.

But after the new chairlifts are constructed, it should be tailored towards “non-skiing visitors and ski school customers”.

Charlotte Wright, chief executive of HIE, said the study was “an excellent piece of work that presents a long-term vision for Cairngorm, which will be used to prioritise future investment”.

She said: “Clearly £27m, even over ten years, is a large investment for a single resort, and funding is often the most challenging of all obstacles. However, the report certainly gives us all something to work towards.

“We are determined that the vision for Cairngorm is a joint vision and that work towards achieving that vision is carried out jointly. To that end, an important aspect to all of this will be engagement with local business and community groups, politicians, public bodies and other stakeholders.”