Am­bi­tious plans launched for tourist spot car park

The Oban Times - - NEWS - EL­LIE FORBES re­porter@oban­times.co.uk

A SKYE com­mu­nity has launched am­bi­tious plans to buy and im­prove the car park of a popular tourist spot.

Thou­sands of vis­i­tors de­scend on the Fairy Pools in Skye each year. But with a car park with just 35 spa­ces, mem­bers of the Mingin­ish Com­mu­nity Hall have now taken the de­ci­sion to buy the land and cre­ate 135 park­ing spa­ces.

A Fairy Pools Com­mu­nity Fund has been cre­ated and the com­mu­nity hopes to buy the ex­ist­ing car park and some of the sur­round­ing land from own­ers Forestry En­ter­prise Scot­land (FES).

Richard Pow­ell from the Mingin­ish Com­mu­nity Hall said more than 108,000 people vis­ited the fairy pools last year, but with just 35 spa­ces prob­lems arose.

He told the Lochaber Times: ‘We end up with 100 or more cars parked along the verges and in pass­ing places.’

And the issue is cre­at­ing sig­nif­i­cant prob­lems for res­i­dents who stay in the nearby vil­lage, Glen Brit­tle.

Mr Pow­ell said: ‘Most of the year people can’t even get home. People have had to leave their cars on the road and walk miles back to their houses be­cause they can’t get through the road be­cause there are that many cars parked along it.’

He con­tin­ued: ‘I have even seen pic­tures of the fire bri­gade stuck be­cause the width of the road has been re­duced so much by parked cars and the fire en­gine can’t get through.

‘De­liv­ery people have even started saying they won’t de­liver to the vil­lage be­cause they can’t get ac­cess, and even if they could get through they won’t come be­cause they are scared they can’t get back.

‘We have asked the High­land Coun­cil to help us but they have said it’s not their prob­lem be­cause it’s not on the road. It’s now come down to the com­mu­nity to raise the money to make the car park big­ger.’

FES has agreed to sell the 13 acres of land to the com­mu­nity for around £ 3,500. But Richard said con­struc­tion work to the car park will cost roughly £250,000.

The group re­ceived £15,000 from the Scot­tish Land Fund ear­lier this year, and hopes that grant fund­ing, such as LEADER, will help cover the costs.

Mr Pow­ell said: ‘ We wanted to put toilets in, too, be­cause people are just go­ing into the woods and do­ing it there which isn’t very nice, but that would cost an­other £40,000.

‘We are hop­ing to get fund­ing from LEADER, but it’s match fund­ing so we would need to raise at least £125,000 first.’

Mr Pow­ell said the fairy pools have been very busy al­ready this year, with vis­i­tors on site since Fe­bru­ary. He also pre­dicted a record-break­ing year for tourism on the is­land with many B&B’s and guest houses al­ready fully booked for the sea­son.

He said: ‘We would have liked to have had some­thing done for the start of this year’s sea­son but in reality we just can’t. We couldn’t get con­struc­tion ve­hi­cles down there now any­way be­cause it’s so busy, so we will be look­ing to start the work October/ Novem­ber time.’

To do­nate to the fairy pool fund go to https://my­do­nate. bt.com/events/fairy­pools

Park­ing prob­lems near the Fairy Pools in Skye.

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