Chairlifts for Afan?

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Recently we reported on the campaign by Dragon Downhill organiser Jason Carpenter to get a chairlift into the Welsh mountains. It was something he’d been pondering for a while, but was galvanised into action by the enforced change in the way uplift services are run, courtesy of a wide-ranging safety review by the Forestry Commission. He’s aiming to raise £250,000 in pledges before going in search of grants and other funding to get a lift-assisted MTB park built in South Wales. And he’s doing pretty well – after two months the pledges total £41,000.

But he might get beaten to it. The Western Mail, Wales’s biggest newspaper, reported last week that Geoff Haden, spokesman for the Tourism Swansea Bay partnership, is urging Neath Port Talbot Council officials to install the UK’s first MTB-specific chairlift at Afan Forest Park.

The Western Mail quotes Mr Haden in the Tourism Swansea Bay newsletter:

“The Afan Forest Park has made a major impact in the mountain biking world and is a wonderful asset for the area. I would like to see it become a first in the UK by installing a chair lift system with bike racks attached. Outside the ski season, European ski resorts fit bike racks to the chair lifts. If the Afan Forest Park did this it would be the first in the UK.”

“It would make the mountain tops more accessible to all, families and less able people could take advantage of the mountain top walks, the not-so-ardent bikers could have access to the trails without having to cycle up the mountain. Die-hard bikers could do more trails in a day. It could also be self-financing by making a small charge to use the facility.”

Jason Carpenter’s keen to distance his campaign from the Afan idea, favouring a lift at a more DH-oriented venue. “Please do not confuse this project with recent press speculation about a chairlift at Afan Forest,” he says on www.dragondownhill.co.uk. “I truly believe that a chairlift should be put in the best place in South Wales for a successful MTB park. This is NOT Afan or Cwmcarn.”

For our part, we don’t really mind. A lift-assisted park would be hugely popular wherever in Wales it’s put. And if in a few years’ time we end up with two of them, so much the better…

The Western Mail story can be read here.

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