The group met recently to discuss the Tweed Valley MTB Action Plan which highlighted opportunities to invest in the Glentress and Innerleithen trails, which attract over 330,000 visitors a year to the Tweed Valley Forest Park.
The development of additional outdoor and indoor activities, longer opening hours for local businesses and investment in accommodation have also been identified by the Stakeholder Group as key to building on the efforts made so far.
Proposals for a mechanical uplift at Traquair Forest by Action for the Innerleithen Mechanical Uplift (AIMUp) were also considered. It was recognised that the best prospect for taking forward the proposal was through a private sector investment as it will not be possible to provide the necessary financial support from Scottish Borders Council (SBC) and public sector partners due to uncertainty about projected visitor numbers and sustainability of the project.
Scottish Borders Council’s executive member for economic development, Councillor Stuart Bell, said: “Mountain biking in the Tweed Valley is a tremendous opportunity that the public sector and businesses in the area need to respond to so that the local economy can grow.
“There are a number of opportunities highlighted in the draft Action Plan drawn up by the Tweed Valley Mountain Biking Stakeholder Group which will aim to build on the area’s reputation as a key mountain biking venue in the UK and internationally.
“These opportunities are now supported by the Glentress Masterplan which was finalised last month and sets out a vision for future sustainable development of Glentress and the wider Tweed Valley, which includes holiday accommodation, new mountain biking trails and bike skills areas.
“The AIMUp group has invested considerable time and effort developing a project based on the idea of a mechanical uplift at Traquair Forest.
“We understand there will be disappointment at the decision of the public agencies not to finance the uplift, but the uncertainty around the level of demand and financial viability of the scheme means it would have been a high risk project for the public sector at this time.
“It may be that with major private sector investment to move the project forward, the scheme could attract some public sector funding, but currently that is not the case.”
Gordon Donald, chair of AIMUp, said: “We are pleased with recent progress on the Tweed Valley Mountain Biking Stakeholder Group’s Action Plan. The Plan is still to be finalised but includes the AIMUp proposals, for example a significant investment in trail development throughout the Tweed Valley. There are a wide range of desired outcomes in the Action Plan. The current Stakeholder Group is public agency dominated. We recommend other representatives join the group and play a part in securing the delivery of the Forward Action Plan.”
Tweed Valley Mountain Biking Stakeholder Group is a public-private sector group made up of SBC, Forest Enterprise Scotland, Scottish Enterprise, VisitScotland, Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland, Traquair Estate and AIMUp.