CAMPAIGNERS have launched an effort to save Scotland’s only indoor snowsports venue – with its closure impacting on disabled and low-income athletes.

Hosted at Braehead’s XSite, Snow Factor closed in November after the firm behind it entered liquidation.

Disability Snowsport UK has had to limit the operations of its accessible snowsports school in Scotland due to the closure.

Virginia Anderson, the group’s CEO, said: “It’s a huge loss to the community, and the people and charity partners we work with.

“We had planned to deliver more than 1000 lessons at the snow centre during this year.”

Malcolm Marr, leader of the Save XSite Snow campaign, said: “The longer the venue remains closed, the risk of it never coming back into use grows.

“As Scotland’s only indoor snow venue, this would be a huge loss to the community and Scotland.”

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The group launched a petition to bring attention to the closure, which is closing in on 1000 signatures.

Snow Factor’s closure caused Disability Snowsport UK to limit its operations in Scotland, as some mobility impaired skiers cannot use their equipment on dry slopes.

Anderson explained: “Our accessible snowsport school ensured that disabled people were able to use the facility too to keep active, have fun, build confidence and make friends.

“From young people with autism to people with complex physical disabilities, everyone was included.

“We’re grateful to our partners at local dry slopes for supporting disabled people to continue to be able to take part, but sadly some skiers can’t use dry-slope facilities due to the nature of the specialist equipment they need.

“It’s a huge loss to the community, and the people and charity partners we work with.”

Anderson said that the snowsports school had partnered with Snow Factor for more than 15 years.

Snow Camp, which uses snowsports as a personal development tool for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, used Snow Factor for teaching before it was cut.

Young people who went through the charity’s development programmes often ended up taking on snow instruction internships and work at Snow Factor, both through the centre itself and through Disability Snowsport UK.

Cormac Whelan, director of Snow Camp’s Scotland programme, said the closure had “quite a big impact” for its operations: “We took a hit.”

The charity had to use dry slopes in Glasgow and transport young people to the Highlands for teaching instead, which came with significant financial consequences.

Cormac welcomed the efforts to reopen the centre, saying: “It’s something that would help our programme a lot.”

Some teaching at the centre was also delivered by the Adventure Trust SCIO.

The charity, which has not filed accounts with the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator for almost a year, has a stated mission to provide “affordable, supported or free” teaching to young people and those facing barriers.

Brexit had a significant impact on Ice Factor Group, the business behind the centre, with The National reporting in 2019 that it had caused all of the firm’s expansion plans to cease.

Owner Jamie Smith said at the time, “I find myself literally banging my face off the table some mornings.

“I see the latest iteration of Brexit and think ‘how have we reached this stage?’”

Ice Factor Group had been set to operate snow centres outside the UK, with one in Spain having funding lined up.

However, Smith said the owner of the facility Ice Factor Group was set to operate in Spain pulled out of the deal due to concerns about the practicality of a firm in the UK operating in the EU.

Smith said: “They don’t know if they can have a UK business financed by a French bank running a Spanish ski centre.

“We were the preferred operator for Xanadu in Madrid. That whole deal has stopped because of Brexit.”

In January this year, a Scottish Government report on the state of the snowsports sector after Covid indicated that as of early November, Snow Factor’s tenancy agreement was under review, indicating the possibility that the centre’s lease might not be renewed.

On November 7, a liquidator was appointed, and the centre closed nine days later.

After Snow Factor shuttered in 2022, sister venue Ice Factor Kinlochleven – Scotland’s national indoor ice-climbing centre – closed in March of this year.

Kinlochleven Community Trust, the owners of the building in which the climbing wall sat, cited unpaid rent as the reason for the closure.