'The key challenge is the enormous threat to the mountain landscape from developers'. So says Brian Linington, newly elected President of the Mountaineering Council of Scotland (MCofS).
MCofS members elected him as President at their Annual General Meeting on Saturday 3 September. Brian was originally elected to the volunteer Board of the MCofS in 2008 and has chaired Board meetings since 2009, with further responsibility for Strategy. He replaces Chris Townsend who had reached the term of his period of office.
The main criteria the Board have identified for the MCofS President are that they should be: known and respected in mountaineering circles; representative of all members / mountaineers; able to act as a figurehead for the organisation; committed to the work of the MCofS.
In his new role Brian is likely to act as chair for Board meetings, as he has done since 2009, and take the lead on some strategic issues, such as the current process on Access and Conservation.
Brian, an active mountaineer who lives in Plockton on the west coast of Scotland, expressed his appreciation of members' confidence in him following the vote, and stated:
'Mountaineering covers a range of activities from indoor climbing and hill walking, to outdoor climbing and expeditions in remote places. My aims for the period of my Presidency include improved engagement with our members as we strive to better-represent and support their interests.'
'I also want to see the MCofS continue to provide the best possible advice and information concerning safety and skills, with the aims of improving self- reliance and minimising mountaineering incidents.'
'A key challenge for me and for the MCofS – and for the many that simply enjoy the landscape of Scotland for its recreational value, or who gain a sense of well-being from the mountains – is the enormous threat to the mountain landscape from developers. I will be leading a review into our conservation policies to ensure we articulate our concerns and maximise our impact with the limited resources available.'
'Since being elected to the Board in 2008, I feel that I have been fortunate to work with colleagues, other volunteers and staff, and be part of a team who have worked hard to turn the MCofS into the best organisation possible. In saying that, there is still much to be done so that we can continue to work for our members cost-effectively, and in an open and democratic way.'
Protecting the mountain landscape in the face of the commercial and lobbying power wielded by developers has always been something of a David vs Goliath struggle. To date the MCofs have managed to hold their own in the development debate, though inevitably outcomes have not always gone their way. The change of presidency does not look like bringing any change of emphasis on conservation, but given the continued pressures for more industrial development in the hills Brian Linington is likely to have his work cut out for him - unless, that is, the conservation policy review, which he mentions in his statement, has a significant impact on planning in Scotland.