Former Torpedo Factory Site Planning Application Receives Conditional Backing from Friends Group

Thursday 11 January, 2024

Conservation Charity Supports Development Proposal in Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park

The Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs, a long established conservation charity, has announced their support for a proposed development in the National Park. The charity’s main goal is to protect, preserve, and promote the special qualities of the park.

The proposed development is located near the village of Arrochar and overlooks the head of Loch Long, a sea loch surrounded by steep sides covered in commercial coniferous plantations. The site also boasts a spectacular backdrop of two mountains, Beinn Narnain and Ben Arthur, making it a prominent location in the heart of the National Park. Although the site has a history of use as a torpedo testing range, it has fallen into a state of dereliction due to fly-tipping and the remains of demolished buildings.

Chair of the Friends, John Urquhart, stated that the site is in need of remediation and a commercial solution seems to be the only viable option. While there have been previous developers interested in the site, none have been able to secure the necessary funding. The charity suggests that national and/or local government agencies should consider assisting with cleanup costs to kickstart the development process, as has been done with other brownfield sites in Scotland.

The proposed development includes a mix of low-key facilities appropriate for the site, with plans to utilize the existing berthing areas. The Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs also emphasize the importance of high-quality design and materials that reflect the location’s status in the National Park. They also suggest prominently referencing the site’s war-time heritage in the development plans.

Additionally, the charity believes that businesses benefiting from the natural capital of an environment have a duty to contribute towards maintaining and enhancing its value. They propose that planning permission for such developments should be conditional on businesses regularly contributing to a “Community Natural Capital Benefit Fund”. This fund would be used to preserve, promote, understand, and appreciate the natural capital of the area, benefiting nature, visitors, communities, and businesses. The legal basis for this arrangement should be agreed upon with appropriate delivery bodies before planning permission is granted.

Examples of where the “Community Natural Capital Benefit Fund” could be applied include addressing invasive species threatening rare Atlantic oakwood “rainforest” along the shores of Loch Long, tackling marine litter in the area, maintaining footpaths, and improving visitor management facilities.

Despite these caveats, the Friends have no objection in principle to the proposed development. In fact, they suggest giving the development a fair chance as it has the potential to address a long-standing planning issue in the area. They believe that, if handled wisely, the development can add value to the wider natural capital of the area and support the potential for adventure tourism in the village of Arrochar and Tarbet, providing much-needed economic support to these rural communities.

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