The DEMOCRAT

PETITION UPDATE

The Sands of Time are running out to save the Bonnie Banks from blight

By Bruce Biddulph

Alexandria

28 JAN 2018 — At Drumkinnon, the bay of sand dunes as was, time is, like sands down a glass, running out. We have only some few weeks to go at most before the Planning In Principle application goes in for ‘scrutiny’ to the decision makers at the national park.

I put that word in parenthesis for a reason. How does one scrutinise a planning application in principle? I would say one cant, not truly. The problem here is that the park will be bound to pass the application only on its own merits as a planning application, not with any regard at all to the actuality of the ground and rights being sold off.

And hamstrung as they are with all manner of things to mind, their task is one that is made, dare I say, simpler for them, by it being only in principle. How easy is for them to wash their hands of an affair by saying, we have no reason to object. They then have answered the public, their duties, and the purchaser and seller and have rocked no boats.

This they will be able to do should the application be as ‘unobjectionable’ as possible.

You can be sure it will be.

So, what is the problem then? The one this petition seeks to address – that the sale will proceed and then what is done cannot be undone. We all lose. And a great crashing wave breaks over the barrier of decency and time honoured traditions, good intentions from our ancestors, and centuries of holding back the floodwaters of commerce, profiteering and ruination of principles.

The effect will be one that we can only guess and fear at, but whatever happens, it will be too late. The genie is out the bottle, and Loch Lomond stands exposed, vulnerable and economic pressures around Balloch will take effect, altering our current set of relationships between common good and private profit. 

In short, we have broken Balloch’s spell, and who knows what will be unleashed – you can be sure it will not be an outbreak of compassionate planning and community engagement.

Pressures will happen on all land and current uses that will only be detrimental. The future will be in the hands of the biggest single landowner Balloch has ever seen since the days of the Colqhouns owning Balloch, and without their long husbandry to fall on. A brave and uncertain world awaits this village and the banks of the Leven.

I say that is too big a risk. It is too unbalanced, and it is a reversal of many centuries of rights, both granted and presumed, and will only result in the complete upending of our township and our riverbank for the rest of time. We will have permitted a gamble that we will never be able to halt or reverse.

And time is running out.

As that time runs out, our petition approaches a defining, emotional, and significant number. To raise awareness, that number will be highly significant indeed as we prepare to highlight the issue at the same time as the planning application goes into the offices of the national park authority.

Before that time is up, I am asking for one final favour, one final push, to reach our target number in order that we have that resonance with our campaigning forebears of a century ago – the ten thousand who agitated for change and achieved it.

Please, I will not ask again, for once achieved, I will be using your voice and your goodwill to take this to the press and raise the profile even higher.

Before time has run out completely.

Balloch from the air bill

An aerial view of the River Leven and the two bridges at Balloch. The proposed development is top right in this picture by Bill Heaney.

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