The organisers of Scotland’s largest outdoor event have poured more than £2 million into improvements on their 200-acre Ingliston site but visitors to this year’s Highland Show will hardly see where the money has gone.
This is because the money has been spent on upgrading infrastructure, with new drainage and vastly improved underground power supplies to cope with future demand.
We are investing in the future at InglistonAlan Laidlaw
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Royal Highland & Agricultural Society chief executive Alan Laidlaw said the work has still to be completed but is “bang on” schedule, adding that it had become essential as demand on water supplies and electrical capacity had increased in recent times.
“We are investing in the future at Ingliston and it makes good sense to ensure all the basic underground infrastructure is completed to begin with,” he said. “With up to 5,000 animals and between 60,000 and 70,000 people on site on peak days at the Highland [Show] the back-up services have to be able to cope.”
With a relatively mild winter aiding progress, he added he was “quietly confident” that the work would be completed by show time in June. Despite almost ten kilometres of trenches having had to be dug for the new pipework, damage to the showfield had been minimal.
However, if most of this investment is invisible to the visitor’s eye, another project – the demolition of the MacRobert pavilion - has changed the landscape of the showground.
The concrete and asbestos building, erected at Ingliston soon after the Highland Show stopped touring the country in the 1960s, had begun to show its age.
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Laidlaw said no decision had been made about what will eventually be a permanent replacement for the MacRobert – this year’s show will feature a temporary structure – but hinted it was possible any future development would link in to improved buildings for some of the Highland Society’s many tenants on the Ingliston site.
Other expenditure on the showfield has included work on roads so that they can cope with the large numbers attending the Highland.
The capital expenditure on the site has been aided by a “year of growth” for the society with a 11 per cent rise in income to £7.85m – last year’s Highland Show brought in £4.35m, up £284,000 on the previous year.