A throw­away so­ci­ety

The Oban Times - - Districts -

I AM a firm be­liever in the old say­ing that those who live in a com­mu­nity should be its best am­bas­sadors, but there are times when this is dif­fi­cult in an area which has be­come less at­trac­tive than it could be.

Locha­line, ac­cord­ing to some place name ex­perts, means, ‘the beau­ti­ful loch’. Beau­ti­ful it may be, but look closer and the scene sud­denly changes.

Driving into the vil­lage and along to­wards Morvern’s highly-ac­claimed pon­toons, one is im­me­di­ately con­fronted by a jun­gle of over­hang­ing veg­e­ta­tion, un­tidy and un­cared for park­ing ar­eas, half-sunk boats, deep pot­holes and aban­doned cars in var­i­ous stages of de­cay. Any­one tak­ing the ap­proach road to the fa­mous sil­ica sand mine and see­ing the scrap metal on one side of the road and the half-sub­merged hulks on the other, might be for­given for think­ing they were in the vicin­ity of a long-aban­doned Aus­tralian min­ing vil­lage – or on the shores of the Aral Sea, which has one of the world’s largest ship grave­yards. What the well-heeled yachts folk must think of Locha­line and its res­i­dents when they walk along to the ho­tel and the vil­lage store, can­not be imag­ined. If there is an award for the un­ti­di­est vil­lage in Scot­land, Locha­line would be a se­ri­ous con­tender.

Suc­ces­sive com­mu­nity coun­cils have been ac­tive in try­ing to clear up the es­ca­lat­ing mess by or­gan­is­ing vil­lage clean-up days and, now and again, ar­rang­ing for skips to be brought in from Fort Wil­liam for house­hold waste. Proof of the sheer vol­ume of dis­pos­able rub­bish was ev­i­dent a few weeks ago when the skips were full to over­flow­ing in a mat­ter of hours. This stick­ing-plas­ter ap­proach will not do. If the High­land Coun­cil can­not pro­vide free monthly skips to spare the pub­lic from hav­ing to make an 80-mile round trip and two ferry cross­ings to take un­wanted goods to the re­cy­cling unit in Fort Wil­liam, the mat­ter will need to be re­solved lo­cally.

Morvern is awash with money at the mo­ment, held by the com­mu­nity coun­cil, the Morvern Com­mu­nity Trust and the Morvern Com­mu­nity De­vel­op­ment Com­pany. Th­ese or­gan­i­sa­tions and the lo­cal landown­ers should grasp the net­tle and do some­thing to­wards per­ma­nently tidy­ing up Locha­line be­fore it be­comes a com­plete em­bar­rass­ment. There is much talk of try­ing to en­cour­age vis­i­tors to stay rather than pass through. Lit­tle won­der it isn’t working.

Morvern is for­tu­nate to have a ‘knight of the road’ who vol­un­tar­ily does a reg­u­lar lit­ter pick-up along the A884 from Locha­line to Carnoch Bridge. Re­cently this un­sung hero spent a few hours walking be­tween Ach­leek and Kin­loch Su­nart, and in that three-mile sec­tion gath­ered up al­most 200 items which had ob­vi­ously been thrown out of ve­hi­cle win­dows. Judg­ing by the num­ber of empty Red Bull en­ergy drink tins in his col­lec­tion, there must be some se­ri­ously sleepy driv­ers us­ing the Locha­line road.

Lit­ter re­cently col­lected from the verges of the A884 lead­ing to Locha­line.

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