Tiree res­i­dents are split over camp­site plan

The Oban Times - - News -

TIREE res­i­dents are di­vided on a pro­posed camp­site for tents and camper­vans at Bale­vullin.

A plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tion, sub­mit­ted to Ar­gyll and Bute Coun­cil by Karl Hughes of Bale­vullin, pro­poses chang­ing the use of land north of his prop­erty, Sunset Cot­tage, for a camp­ing site, in­clud­ing toi­lets and show­ers.

Mr Hughes ex­plains: ‘I am the owner oc­cu­pier of a seven-acre croft. We wish to di­ver­sify our in­come and pro­vide a small sea­sonal camp­ing site to visi­tors.

‘Tiree is not suit­able for car­a­vans. We wish to pro­vide a camp­ing lo­ca­tion to the ever-in­creas­ing num­ber of camper­vans that ar­rive dur­ing the vis­i­tor sea­son [from] April 1 un­til end Septem­ber. We plan to cater for a max­i­mum num­ber of 20 camper­vans and a small num­ber of tents, 10 max.

‘The area is free- drain­ing, has good owned ac­cess and is not over­looked by other prop­er­ties.’

Mr Hughes added: ‘In or­der to pro­vide an in­come for my Tiree-based fam­ily, and given the croft is a mere 2.7ha, it is nec­es­sary in or­der to be a vi­able com­mer­cial en­tity to di­ver­sify.’

The plan has at­tracted 21 ob­jec­tions and two in sup­port so far. One ob­jec­tor ar­gued: ‘It will change the whole am­bi­ence of what used to be a tran­quil and peace­ful en­vi­ron­ment. The in­evitable noise, pol­lu­tion and dis­rup­tion can only be detri­men­tal.’

An­other ob­jected ‘ very strongly’, say­ing ‘traf­fic in Bale­vullin is al­ready very heavy’ and that ‘there are far more ap­pro­pri­ate po­ten­tial sites on the is­land … there are al­ready sev­eral new camp­sites dot­ted across Tiree’.

An­other, who runs a sum­mer let business nearby, wrote that the pro­posed ac­cess route ‘if used for com­mer­cial traf­fic in­volv­ing over 40 ve­hi­cles per day [would] be­come a very sig­nif­i­cant issue af­fect­ing our business’.

One neigh­bour ar­gued there would ‘ir­re­versible dam­age to the pris­tine machair land sur­round­ing the site which is likely to un­dergo in­creased ero­sion as visi­tors make their way to the lo­cal beach’.

An­other neigh­bour feared ‘there will be loud mu­sic be­ing played through the night. I feel at 79 years of age I should be able to sleep with­out be­ing sub­jected to con­stant thump­ing of mu­sic’.

And a third wrote: ‘Campers are able to look di­rectly into our house and we had a nasty ex­pe­ri­ence with a naked camper­van per­son.’

How­ever, sup­porter Iona Larg, a surf­ing business owner whose Bale­vullin beach hut was de­nied ret­ro­spec­tive plan­ning per­mis­sion by the coun­cil, ar­gued: ‘ On Tiree, tourism is the only growth in­dus­try with a growth of 160 per cent in 10 years. The camp­site is lo­cated within a de­vel­op­ment zone al­ready pop­u­lar with tourists.

‘Tiree’s pop­u­la­tion con­tin­ues to fall (15 per cent between 201-2011), es­pe­cially with young eco­nom­i­cally-ac­tive fam­i­lies. The ap­pli­ca­tion is a croft di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion that will al­low this man to live, work and sus­tain his young fam­ily on Tiree year round. It is es­sen­tial that sus­tain­able busi­nesses are sup­ported if frag­ile economies such as Tiree are to be given any chance of sur­vival.’

An­other sup­porter, a vis­i­tor to Bale­vullin Beach, noted ‘many mo­tor homes parked in the ve­hi­cle park­ing area, but no dis­posal points for foul wa­ter and in many cases the dunes used as toi­lets’.

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