Innerleithen Uplift: On Track and Gaining Speed

The Innerleithen Uplift project has been in the pipeline for a while now, and, like all of these projects, there are many unforeseen challenges and hurdles. The guys at AimUp have their eyes set on a big prize though, and the Tweed Love Bike Festival was a good time to catch up on progress.

From the programme for the Tweedlove Bike Festival 2013

Tweed Love fired a few questions over to AimUp, to see how progress is going towards the planned bike uplift…

Where have you got to so far?
We now have approved Planning in Principle for an uplift system and coaster ride, together with the required base station, building car park etc. We also have approval for our NFLS application to lease approx 500 hectares of Forest Estate land, which at this stage give us sufficient control on the land required for an uplift and an extensive trail network. A couple of the team recently undertook a site visit to one of the preferred suppliers in Germany, looking in more detail at the designs and processes as well as having some fun on the coaster ride.

What has to happen next?
Next we have to secure the £5.5m capital funding! We’re targeting a number of sources of grant funding and are being assisted by SBC with access to Scottish Government and European bodies that might be able to act as the anchor funder for the project. We have a number of other ideas for raising funds, including private investment and borrowing, but securing the anchor funder is the priority right now.

So it’s going to happen then?
We believe so, yes. Until we secure the funding we can’t guarantee it, but the group has been able to meet all the challenges laid down so far, and we’ve got a great sub-team working on the funding question. We also have great support, from the local community, as well as politicians on all side at SBC, Scottish and UK government. We think the numbers stack up, an uplift at Innerleithen together with the facilities at Glentress, can only enhance the Tweed Valley’s reputation as the UK’s top biking destination.

Will there be new trails/a bike park?
Yes there will be new trails, and trail development will be on-going. A bike park along the lines of Whistler’s Boneyard is unlikely in the first phase, but remains and idea for the future.

Do you need support or help from riders?
At the moment we’d ask for support in the form of liking our Facebook page, and being patient! If all goes to plan, we will in the future look for additional support in the form of dig days, advance ticket sales and other fund raising activities.

What’s the biggest problem you face?
The biggest problem is the current challenge, securing the capital funding. The project has been shaped by dependencies; each challenge had to be overcome before moving forward. First we had to show that our plan didn’t require an environmental impact assessment. After showing the EIA was not required, we could push on to secure planning permission, whilst also progressing our NFLS application for Forest land. Until we had planning permission and control over the land, we couldn’t progress to the next step, securing the capital funding. This is where we are now, so this is the biggest problem we face now.

If you’d like to get involved check out the AimUp Facebook page. Thanks to Tweed Love and Ian Campbell for the info.