A throwaway society
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.