Boating fans furious as park shuts slipway
Club slam closure decision
A Balloch boating club has blasted the national park for closing one of the only two public slipways on Loch Lomond.
Members of the Loch Lomond Freestyle Jet Ski Club were told motorboats will no longer be able to enter the water at the Millarochy Bay from April.
The national park say the controversial move is due to staffing costs and a falling number of motorised launches.
The beach, car park and toilets at Millarochy Bay will remain open for public use once the slipway is closed.
The slipway closure is the latest restriction on the Balloch beauty spot after the decision was taken to ban camping on Loch Lomond last year.
The announcement has been met with anger by local boat users, who claim this is part of a national park bid to make the loch more appealing for tourists.
Calum Stevens, who is president of the Loch Lomond Freestyle Jet Ski Club, told the Lennox Herald: “We feel they are gradually trying to stop people from using the loch.
“First it was the camping bans and now slowly but surely they are pushing motor boats out.
“We are a legitimate club and we feel like we are being prevented from gaining access to the water.
“The national park have a vision for how Loch Lomond should be and motor boats are not part of that vision. All they are interested in is tourists.”
There is only one other public access point for motor boats on Loch Lomond, which is the Duncan Mills slipway at Loch Lomond Shores. Calum, 34, who has been boating on Loch Lomond for over 20 years, says this busy slipway cannot cope with the increase in traffic.
He said: “Loch Lomond is a very busy loch and now that there will only be one slipway available it just isn’t going to work.
“In summer it can’t cope with the traffic as it is. It is far too busy.
“During some days in the summer the Duncan Mills slipway is closed and then we have no access to the water whatsoever.
“There should have been some kind of public consultation on this as it’s going to have a huge effect on the people who use the slipways.
“I don’t understand how they can just close something which belongs to the public without even consulting with the public first.”
A national park spokeswoman said the slipway closure is an operational decision so it does not require any input from the public.
She added: “The decision has been taken to close the slipway for launching powered craft at Milarrochy Bay following careful consideration.
“The beach at Milarrochy Bay is increasingly popular with families and other people, including swimmers and kayakers, and we need to strike a balance between the needs of all these visitors.
“The health and safety risk of people launching boats from vehicles and trailers without staff on site to supervise them is too high. 040217CALUM_STEVENS_003
“Numbers of motorised launches at Milarrochy have been consistently falling over the last few years and the small administration fee for registering powered craft comes nowhere near to covering the cost of staffing the slipway.
“Staffing for these very low numbers is simply not best use of public money.
“Letters have been sent to everyone who currently has a motorised craft registered to notify them and explain this decision ahead of the change coming in April.
“We will continue to operate a full time launch service from the Duncan Mills Memorial Slipway in Balloch. The beach, car park and toilets at Milarrochy Bay will remain open for public use and enjoyment.”
Anger Calum Stevens of the Loch Lomond Freestyle Jet Ski Club