HAVING lost both visitors and income this year as a result of one of the wettest Highland Shows in the 200 plus years of the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland, the organisers yesterday announced a number of measures to prevent the same happening again.
Speaking at the society’s Ingliston headquarters, chief executive Stephen Hutt stressed the importance of having a “fit for purpose” showfield and this meant added investment in the infrastructure on the 250 acre site next to Edinburgh airport.
Drainage work is already under way on a number of problem areas within the showground itself and this will be followed by both drainage work and improved roads in the car park areas, where more than half the available area was lost to flooding during the 2012 Highland Show.
Hutt said that the extra money for sorting out these problems would come from the society’s development fund, where more than £4 million has already been put to one side; of this, £2.6m will go on infrastructure.
He explained that, due to a delay in a number of proposed developments at the Ingliston site including the building of a hotel, the directors had diverted more cash to sorting out what he described as “our maxed-out infrastructure”.
Part of the reason for the works having to take place now was because the society had refrained from investment for the five years where the airport owners were threatening compulsory purchase on the site.
He described the investment as prudent as it would help protect the future of the Highland Show, which he described as the flagship event for the society which now hosts more than 200 different events annually.
Hutt was also keen to deny claims made in the immediate wake of this year’s show which estimated income would drop by more than £500,000 because of the adverse weather.
“The figure will end up somewhere between £120,000 and £150,000 and that includes some £25,000 additional expenditure during the show,” he said.
Earlier Hutt had stressed that the Highland Society was adhering to its original aims in providing support to rural organisations.
The latest manifestation of this was announced as a £10,000 funding package to the Scottish Association of Young Farmers Clubs (SAYFC) to help celebrate its 75th anniversary next year.
Society chairman Alan Murray said the two organisations shared a common objective in supporting Scotland’s rural communities and thus had a close working relationship.
The money will be used to promote the Young Farmers movement, which currently has about 5,000 members.
SAYFC chief executive Penny Montgomerie said the association had big plans for its anniversary year and the donation would help achieve these.
• The society also released the results of a survey among the livestock exhibitors which showed that the majority viewed showing as an effective method of marketing their stock. Proof of this view was given with one third of all exhibitors saying they had been approached by potential buyers for their stock.