Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Loch Lomond Flamingo Land leisure park plan thrown out (so far)

Another item came to a head while I was out of circulation, so just to tie it up neatly…

Plans for a £30m leisure park on the shores of Loch Lomond have been unanimously rejected by West Dunbartonshire councillors.

The controversial Lomond Banks development – a joint venture between theme park operator Flamingo Land and Scottish Enterprise – include plans for a hotel, hostel, restaurants, craft brewery, boat house, leisure centre and six private houses in the Balloch area.

A Save Loch Lomond petition was set up in response to the development, with the campaign group arguing the need to preserve the national park for future generations.

Led by Scottish Greens MSP Ross Greer, the petition has so far generated over 56,000 formal objections to the plans.

Mr Greer welcomed the council’s decision, branding the development as the “most unpopular planning application in Scottish history“.

Given that the process is not yet complete, I wouldn’t rule out anything being done in order to push this through ‘By other means’.

This is outside my area, but I’ve also read enough planning applications to have seen that some which might have been considered to have been ‘Dead and Buried’ were able to drag on for years as wealthy backers/proposers tried all sort of ruses to get them approved, with no end of changes and tweaks to the original application being made in an effort to make them conform to rulings, and bypass objections.

Although West Dunbartonshire Council opposed the plans on Wednesday evening, the final decision will be made by the board of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park.

No date has been set for the decision as the consultation and statutory planning stages are still ongoing, but a full public hearing will be held before the final verdict.

A spokesperson for Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority said: “As the planning authority considering a live application, it is not appropriate at this stage for any comment to be made on consultation responses received or the proposals themselves.

“With all the main consultation responses now received, planning officers can finalise the assessment of these complex proposals against relevant planning policies, consultation responses and the large number of public comments received.

“The next stage is for an officer report, with a recommendation to either approve with conditions or refuse the application, to be presented to the national park board.

“The board has already agreed that a site visit followed by a full public hearing should be held before a planning decision is taken to ensure that people who have commented on the application have the opportunity to speak.

“Dates for the special hearing and board meeting are currently being identified and will be publicised to all interested parties when confirmed.”

Councillors vote against £30m Loch Lomond leisure park

See also:

Councillors reject plans to build Flamingo Land on Loch Lomond shores

Like I suggested in my previous post, that the proposal should even have got as far as it did just makes me wonder what the National Park Authority is there for.

I’d think someone should be calling for it to be investigated, or for its remit to be reviewed to see if it is appropriate, or even fit for purpose.

I just hope that by the time I think I’m fit enough to cycle to Balloch for a nice day out, it will still be there, and not have be fenced off and have admission tickets for sale.

tired

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06/07/2019 Posted by | Civilian | , , , | Leave a comment

Told you so – Loch Lomond NPA has lost the plot (and maybe should be wound up)

While it may only be my opinion, ever since it was formed I’ve wondered what the point was of the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park Authority (NPA).

Supposedly created to look after and protect the area (from development?), all I ever seemed to see was news of development continuing within it, while the NPA used the ruse of ‘protecting’ the area by introducing rules and regulations which would, I believe, have driven away people like Tom Weir and hos friends (if they were still with us) from one of their favourite ‘wild’ areas, and served only to let the NPA justify its existence, and increase its power.

When plans were announced for a massive development near Loch Lomond I suggested Oh-oh… Looks like my unhappy opinion of the NPA might not be the only one

It seems I was right, and more than 53,000 54,500 other people agreed.

It’s probably also worth adding that this figure will be considerably larger, since it represents only those who actually registered their view.

More than 53,000 objections against a proposed £30 million tourist development on the shores of Loch Lomond have been handed to planners.

Plans for the Lomond Banks resort in Balloch include a 60-bedroom aparthotel, 32-bedroom budget accommodation, a craft brewery, boat house, leisure centre and restaurants, as well as improvements to public footpaths and green spaces.

Green MSP Ross Greer visited the village on the loch’s southern shore along with locals to hand over objections, fulfilling a pledge to gather more than 50,000 by enabling people to object via his website.

By Monday afternoon, more than 54,500 people had lodged their opposition via his site.

He claims the number sets a record for any Scottish planning application and called for the planning authority, Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park, to reject planning permission for the Flamingo Land Limited and Scottish Enterprise application.

Mr Greer said: “Flamingoland Loch Lomond is now the most unpopular planning application in Scottish history and when you look at their proposals, it’s no surprise why.

“Local residents have been joined by people from across Scotland in saying that Loch Lomond’s world famous natural beauty should be protected, not sold off for the profit margins of a private developer.

“Time and time again, it’s only the Greens standing with communities when they fight to protect Scotland’s environment against corporate takeover and destruction.

“Our campaign to save Loch Lomond will continue until the National Park reject these plans and this threat is ended once and for all.”

Flamingoland resort ‘most unpopular planning application in Scottish history’

Loch Lomond resort ‘most unpopular development in history’

Heads should roll

I’m not usually a fan of the “FIRE SOMEBODY” response which is so popular nowadays, and used to make a public statement when some alleged mistake or slip is made in a publicly visible company, but in this case I think such a move would be wholly appropriate.

This is not a mere error, but a complete failure by an organisation supposedly tasked with protecting an area of outstanding natural beauty.

I’d say it’s also the worst example to date of how this NPA really isn’t fit for purpose, not has it been since it was put in place.

Not only the chief executive should be looking for a new job now, but with such a gross error being made in public, the whole board should probably be deemed complicit too, and ‘invited’ to leave.

And with that, maybe a NEW NPA should be formed, one which will do the job an NPA is supposed to do!

Unless we actually WANT Loch Lomond’s shores to look like…

Benidorm

Benidorm

A more detailed look at ‘The Plot’

The BBC ran a long and detailed review.

Proposals for a tourist resort on Loch Lomond have been complained about more than 55,000 times.

Plans for the £30m resort near Balloch are believed to have attracted the largest number of objections for a Scottish planning application.

The online petition against the Lomond Banks development has been passed to planners.

Significantly, this para confirms the NPA can do as it likes, and the planning decision is not down to the local council.

Final plans were submitted to the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park Authority last month. The developers modified previous plans in light of requests by the authority for changes and further information. The decision on whether to allow the development lies with the authority – not the local council.

Why isn’t the local council making the decision?

The local authority, West Dunbartonshire Council, has a right to express a view on the project but will not take the decision on whether to grant it planning permission because it is within the national park’s boundaries.

A spokeswoman said: “We will be making a formal response as a consultee. This will be considered by councillors in June and will thereafter be submitted to the National Park Authority as the council’s response to the application.”

So, the NPA can do as it likes.

Will the volume of signatures have an impact on the decision?

Obviously, the authority will be aware of the number of signatories but the sheer number alone would not be a factor.

Even if what it want to do is really “privatisation of public space”.

Some would also argue a commercial development on this land represents the “privatisation of public space”. Indeed this row seems to touch on these fundamental issues. Leading opponents include the Scottish Green MSP Ross Greer and the writer and champion of the outdoors Cameron McNeish.

Why did 55,000 people object to Loch Lomond development plans?

Mental image when I see opinions be offered to the NPA…

Well kiss dis

21/05/2019 Posted by | Civilian | , , , | Leave a comment

Oh-oh… Looks like my unhappy opinion of the NPA might not be the only one

I’ve said before that I’ve long given up on passing comment on the NPAs (National Park Authorities), especially since I lost the option of being a regular visitor to the Loch Lomond area some time ago.

So now you know I think they’re (around Loch Lomond at least) useless,

I spotted news of a proposed major development at Loch Lomond, and it seems to pretty much fall into line with the negative things I think about NPAs.

This sounds kind of what like I was saying years ago, and the NPA still seems to be letting developments be added.

So much for preserving the place, unspoilt.

More than 50,000 objections have been lodged against a new £30m tourist development at Loch Lomond.

The proposals include a 60-bedroom apart-hotel, 32-bedroom budget accommodation, a craft brewery, holiday homes, leisure centre and restaurants.

But the Lomond Banks development at Balloch has proven controversial with strong local opposition.

Campaigners fear the project will spoil the scenery and limit access to the shoreline for locals.

Alannah Maurer, of the Save Loch Lomond campaign, told BBC Scotland’s The Nine: “A national park is a theme park in its own right, a natural theme park and in this time of climate change we should be looking at conserving that natural theme park.

“Those buildings will dominate the scenery, they will dominate the village of Balloch.”

Anger over £30m hotel and leisure complex for Loch Lomond

They (the developers, and the objectors) can’t both be right, so this will an interesting confrontation between two fairly outspoken groups who would seem to be unlikely ever to agree.

Benidorm pic still seems appropriate, so…

Benidorm

Benidorm

04/05/2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

And a National Park Authority does what?

I gave up poking fun at things National Park Authorities (NPA) did years ago.

While I thought the idea was for them to protect the area under their control, they just seemed to make rules to keep themselves in a nice comfy job.

As far as I could see, there seems to be as much development (house building) after they arrived as before – but then again, I was only going by what was reported in the media.

I don’t really want to start that stream up again, but given the horrible big commercial lump parachuted onto the south shore of Loch Lomond, I never expected to see any more development down there.

Then again, maybe I was forgetting that there’s a National Park Authority in place, to limit out-of-place development.

Plans for a new £30m tourist development at Loch Lomond have been unveiled.

The proposals include a 60-bedroom apart-hotel, 32-bedroom budget accommodation, a craft brewery, boat house, leisure centre and restaurants.

There will also be upgrades to public footpaths and green spaces.

It is estimated the Lomond Banks development at Balloch would create 80 full-time jobs, 50 part-time jobs and 70 seasonal roles in the area.

Plans for £30m tourist development at Loch Lomond

Plans unveiled for £30m Loch Lomond tourist development

Plans revealed for £30m Loch Lomond tourist development with hotel, craft brewery and apartments

It’s beginning to make me think of Spain (for example), which apparently used to look nice, and was a great destination for a nice holiday. I don’t know, I’d never go there.

Until it was covered with hotels and bars to ‘Make it better for tourists’.

Reminds me of a little piece I wrote some years ago, suggesting a small theme park near Balloch might not be a bad idea – as I recall, I was not a popular person for even mentioning the thought back then.

Benidorm

Benidorm

23/04/2019 Posted by | Civilian | , , | Leave a comment

The Maid of the Loch will open to visitors at Easter

Nice to see the Maid of the Loch continues to progress toward the ultimate goal of sailing on Loch Lomond once more.

Following a cash injection from the Scottish Government, the tearoom will be opening with guided tours of the ship and nearby Balloch Steam Slipway will be available.

Seems the work in hand will see the addition of a lift!

That will help in getting between decks – they never had things like that when the paddle steamer was originally in service.

From Easter weekend onwards, the Maid of the Loch will open every day until the end of October. Opening hours and any closures due to works on the ship will be posted online.

Some people like to be glum, but I’ve always held out for this restoration to have a successful conclusion, no matter how slow progress may seem at times.

I sailed on the Maid as a kid, only a few years before the paddle steamer was taken out of service and disappeared, so never even got the chance to go back.

Then I was wandering around a park somewhere at the bottom of the loch, near Balloch, and came across what seemed to be little more than the abandoned hull one day.

No Internet or easy way to ask about it then, so I’m afraid I forgot about the find (I didn’t even get a pic), and it was years later, as the recovery project was made public and an appeal was made for ‘scavenged’ parts to be returned to help with the restoration, that I learned it had not been scrapped.

  • Maid of the Loch was the last paddle steamer built in Britain.
  • It was built by A. & J. Inglis of Glasgow and was launched on March 5, 1953. It entered service later that year.
  • The ship operated on Loch Lomond for 29 years, and as with other steamers, cost pressures led to the ship being laid up after a last commercial sailing on August 31, 1981.
  • A series of attempts to bring the boat back into service under a succession of owners were unsuccessful, to which it gradually deteriorated at the side of the loch.
  • Since 2016, it has been undergoing restoration work at Balloch Pier thanks to The Loch Lomond Steamship Company.

Maid of the Loch set to open its doors on Easter weekend

I intend to make a serious attempt at a revisit to see the steamer. Last time I did it things went very badly, as I was able to drive, but my car’s battery decided to expire without warning in the car park near the Maid. Rather than a nice visit, I ended up spending the rest of the day getting buses, trains, other vehicles, and long walks in order to get a new battery and rescue my car.

This time I’ll either cycle (I did just over half the trip last year, and it was easy) – even though the Glasgow/Balloch is reputedly one many try, but never finish 🙂

Alternatively, I’ve been looking at alternate transport I can afford (ie free) and found that the same route that can me to Helensburgh also goes to Balloch, so might be a nice day out.

I need a decent pic.

When I last visited and actually took a digital pic, the camera I used was so down-market (at the time, a 1 MP Olympus cost around £560 – I know because I had to buy one for work) that it only pretended to take a 640×480 pixel image. In reality, the resolution was about half of that, and it interpolated the capture to scale it to that number.

I don’t even have those image, or I do, but the barely used hard drive they were stored on failed, and fixing/recovering is a job I need to get around to one day. Before you ask, IT was the backup, and only had a few hours use before going wonky. Of course, it was also the only backup drive I’ve ever really needed , as the source did fail.

Typical.

Was there ever any follow-up to the incident that occurred during the slipping of the vessel some months back?

I don’t recall seeing anything in the news after the initial report, and the media had looked as if it was going to feed well on it.

16/04/2019 Posted by | council, Maritime, Transport | , , , | 2 Comments

Maid of the Lock slip seems to have generated another spurious headline (or clickbait?)

Over the past few weeks I’ve noticed an apparent trend for media articles to state one thing in their headline, then report a lesser story in their text.

I’m almost tempted to start posting these as I spot them, to see if I am imagining it, or if news editors (or their army of hacks, desperate to get earn a wee bonus) have issued an instruction that articles must be given a headline that will attract readers/clicks.

Most recent was a follow-up to yesterday’s incident involving the Maid of the Loch, when something broke/failed as she was being winched up the old slip at Balloch, and she slid back into the water.

While this could have been dramatic, the video I saw showed a fairly leisurely incident, and no real haste by those nearby to run for their lives.

That said, I acknowledge my observation could be entirely in error, and a different viewpoint may have shown many people were lucky not to be killed or injured.

I don’t know.

However, today we have this headline…

HSE probe after Maid of the Loch breaks free

I don’t know about anyone else, but for me, that wording implies that the HSE initiated a probe into the incident.

But…

When I looked at the small print in the article, I learned that…

“The Board of the Loch Lomond Steamship Company met this morning and have agreed to commission an independent inquiry into the cause of the incident.

“Appropriate consultants are being contacted and the incident has been reported to the HSE.”

So there is not actually any HSE probe into the incident at this stage, and it may ultimately choose not even to look into it.

Source: HSE probe after Maid of the Loch breaks free

Maid of the Loch 2017

Maid of the Loch 2017

11/01/2019 Posted by | Civilian, Maritime, Transport | , | Leave a comment

Oops – Maid of the Loch slips on slip

A perfect opportunity for the Armchair Experts and the We Told You So society to have a joint meeting and celebration, as the Maid of the Loch suffered a very public mishap during her trip up the old slipway at Balloch.

As usual, there were plenty of people on hand who knew better than those who were actually carrying out the work.

One always wonder why they never come forward BEFORE such events, take over, and prevent their occurrence.

Bystanders suggested the problem was with the cradle at the front and they questioned whether the ship had been put up correctly.

Whoops! Maid of Loch falls back in water in winching fail

Maybe they’re not as smart as they often make out, and just smug people equipped with perfect 20/20 hindsight!

Sadly, although the BBC offers and embeddable video of the incident (which seems to be a lot slower and uneventful than some reports seem to suggest), WordPress kills it when I include it, so you’ll have to click on the links below to see it.

Maid of the Loch slips back into water

Workers flee as Maid of the Loch paddle steamer slides back into water

Some more…

Watch as attempt to haul Maid of the Loch out of the water fails

In pictures: An attempt to bring the Maid of the Loch out of the water fails

Hopefully it was something as simple as the failure of an old or little used part on the old slipway (itself a historic relic) which will be nothing more than an inconvenience to repair or replace, and nothing valuable was damaged.

Maid of the Loch - undergoing slipping

Maid of the Loch – undergoing slipping back in 2006

10/01/2019 Posted by | Civilian, Maritime, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

No slacking in Maid of the Loch restoration

After I hinted that suggestions of Gloom and Doom for the project to restore the Maid of the Loch to steam were unduly negative following a Heritage Lottery Funding rejection, the project has not only carried on, but is apparently picking up speed without the massive cash injection which had some feeling so glum.

The last paddle steamer built in Britain will undergo a historic slipping this week.

The Maid of the Loch will be subject to a massive refurbishment from Thursday – only the second time the ship has been slipped in almost 40 years.

Mackay Boatbuilders Ltd will haul the 191-foot-long, 555-ton vessel out of the water by the original winchhouse and onto the Balloch Steam Slipway, a Category A listed building on the banks of Loch Lomond.

Once on the slipway, a full ultrasound survey, overseen by classification society Bureau Veritas, will be carried out on the ship’s hull to provide a definitive report on its current condition, before the major refurbishment takes place.

Work set to take place includes the restoration of the aft deck saloon to 1950’s style, the creation of an education suite and total rebuild of the main saloon aft to 1950’s style with replica wood panelling and central heating.

A complete overhaul of the original engines and machinery will also be carried out to restore them to working condition, with steam set to be supplied by a package boiler on the pier.

The campaign to restore the Maid and return her to a fully operational steamship was last month boosted after the £950,000 capital grant awarded by the Scottish Government was confirmed along with £50,000 from the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society, taking the work package to £1 million.

The Maid currently operates as a static tourist attraction and hopes to gain industrial museum status for the ship and steam slipway as a growing number of artefacts are collected and restored to working condition.

Massive Maid of the Loch refurbishment set to begin this week

Pity I’m so far away, it would have been nice to see.

The shared pic below has the following text…

dThe paddle steamer Maid of the Loch is seen here undergoing a historic slipping on the 27th of June, 2006; in other words, it was slowly winched out of the water, and pulled onto a rebuilt slipway. This was the first time it had been out of the water, or indeed moved, since being withdrawn from active service in 1981. With the exception of this slipping, the steamer has been moored at nearby Balloch pier continuously since 1981 (at the time of writing, it is still there).

The slipping was performed as a test of the rebuilt slipway, with the longer-term goal of returning the Maid of the Loch to service (I am one of many who travelled the Loch on this steamer in the old days).

The Maid was drawn up onto the slipway by means of a steam-powered winch. This was a fairly slow process, although most of the day was taken up with carefully manoeuvring it into position using ropes; see: NS3882 : Maid of the Loch – preparations for slipping.

Maid of the Loch - undergoing slipping

Maid of the Loch – undergoing slipping

08/01/2019 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian, Maritime, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Maid of the Loch gains £950 k after missing out on £3.7 million

I told you so (and hoped I would be right, of course) – not to worry about the gloom and doom spread after the HLF (Heritage Lottery Fund) rejection.

This project has simply gone on for far too long to let something like that derail, it might slow it down, but I could not believe those behind it would ever give up.

Paddle steamer Maid of the Loch could be set to sail again after the group behind the ship’s restoration said it is to receive a Scottish Government grant of almost £1 million.

The Loch Lomond Steamship Company said the £950,000 capital grant award has been confirmed after a £3.7 million bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) was rejected earlier this year.

The charity, which has been working to restore the static tourist attraction on the banks of the loch since 1996, said the cash means work to repair the ship’s hull and overhaul its engines can go ahead.

“Our next step will see the ship brought out of the water in January on to the Balloch Steam Slipway to allow us to carry out an essential ultrasound test of the entire hull to check its condition. Any repairs will then be carried out.

“It will be the first time any work has been done on the hull since 1981, so there is great excitement among our volunteers, who can’t wait to help.”

He added: “Everyone who has visited the Maid over the years has said we must get this beautiful ship sailing again.

“Getting her in steam and with her paddles turning again is the next best thing, and we anticipate great interest next year as people come to watch her majestic engines moving for the first time in 37 years.”

The Paddle Steamer Preservation Society has also confirmed a grant of £50,000 towards restoring the ship.

Full steam ahead for Maid of the Loch after £950,000 award

Lifeline for ailing Loch Lomond paddle steamer

Maid of the Loch 2017

Maid of the Loch 2017

I really do have to find out how to get there, since I’ve been priced off the road, which ended my jaunts there whenever I felt like it.

I saw someone write a ‘funny’ about cycling there (from Glasgow), and how everybody thinks they can, tries it, then finds themselves stuck in Balloch, too sore to cycle back home 🙂

So far, I’ve done half the trip (turned at Clydebank) and didn’t feel a single twinge.

Maybe that’s some sort of cunning trap, designed to lure you in, so you collapse somewhere on the way back!

07/12/2018 Posted by | council, Maritime, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Skylark IX – The Little Ship that survived will become a floating museum on the Clyde

It’s a pity the place I had some long discussion over various wartime relics found in Scotland isn’t really available now, since the original find and recovery of this ‘Little Ship’ was quite extended.

The good news is that it is to be restored and turned into a floating museum.

It had been used for cruises on Loch Lomond, for something like 30 years, but eventually fell into disrepair, and sank.

A few years ago, it was raised by the Royal Navy after a campaign to rescue/recover it, by veterans supporting the Skylark IX Recovery Trust, and was moved to the Scottish Maritime Museum, Irvine.

A Dunkirk Little Ship, which rescued 600 Allied troops during World War Two, is to be restored and turned into a floating museum on the River Clyde.

Skylark IX will be saved thanks to £404,000 of funding from The National Lottery.

The work will be carried out by a specialist boatbuilding team working with recovering drug addicts.

The boat, built as a passenger cruiser in 1927, become part of the Dunkirk Little Ships fleet of 850 boats.

Dunkirk Little Ship to be floating museum on River Clyde

See also:

The Association of Dunkirk Little Ships

As seen back in 2012. Not long after being raised

Skylark IX

Skylark IX

06/12/2018 Posted by | Maritime, Transport, World War II | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sad to see – Maid of the Loch hits major funding hiccup

It’s been odd watching the slow but relatively steady restoration of Loch Lomond’s Maid of the Loch paddle steamer over the years.

I still have the image of my first discovery the rotting hull abandoned at the side of the loch many years ago, some time after retiral.

All I knew then was that the paddle steamer fallen out of service a few years after I’d been on board, and could have been scrapped.

As it was, the image of the white, but rusty, remains was burned into my memory by shock and surprise.

Sadly, I don’t think I even owned a camera back then, and it never even occurred to be to take pics, or take a closer look.

In fact, I forgot all about the find.

Then I spotter news of the restoration, and have tried to follow (from a distance) ever since.

I did manage a trip back during an early Doors Open Day, but not long after that, let’s just say things did not go well, and I ‘forgot’ about this subject again.

Restoration isn’t cheap, but over the years, despite slow progress, there has been steady progress – until, it seems, the biggest hurdle was reached, restoring the boilers and getting the steamer underway.

As an observation (as opposed to a criticism), like nuclear fusion, this always seems to have been just “A few years away”.

I’m concerned about the future of the project, and the suitability of those in charge now, as their failure to secure Lottery funding is being treated as a failure by the Lottery to come up with expected funds, as if it was somehow guaranteed.

Unfortunately, there are many other seeking substantial handouts from HLF (Heritage Lottery Funding), so there will ALWAYS be winners and losers at every round.

That any group should base its future on such success, especially of substantial and critical, is unwise, and even if creaking and slow, should have a Plan B (C, D, and more) in abeyance.

To say that any funding application failure pits a whole project in ‘jeopardy’ – that’s just not good enough.

I’d normally give a quote, just to spark interest and not be the sole source of content, but in this case, I’d have to copy both the chairman’s statement, and the HLF response, and that’s just too much. Excerpts or clips could be taken out of context, and I dislike that too.

Read them in full here:

Lottery funding blow jeopardises paddle steamer project

Maid of Loch in ‘jeopardy’ after £3.6m funding refused

Maid of the Loch 2017

Maid of the Loch 2017

03/10/2018 Posted by | Civilian, Maritime, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

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