A business encampment on Loch Lomond?

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Lochs and Glens buses appear to regularly park overnight at the Inveruglas car park

If you have passed up or down the A82 this summer you may have noticed Lochs and Glens buses parked overnight in the Inveruglas car park – I have several times.   This is one of the car parks where the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park Authority want to introduce parking charges which will be enforced through number plate recognition technology (see here).  I was intrigued about what arrangements might be in place now between Lochs and Glens, which is a prominent business in the park and is a member of Love Loch Lomond, and the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park Authority.  So I asked and at the end of last week received this response.

 
The Park Authority has no agreement with Lochs and Glens for the use of Inveruglas car park. Therefore I have to advise you under Regulation 10(4)a of the EIRs that there is no relevant information held.

 

I believe this gives a further insight into the warped priorities of this National Park Authority.    Here is a business which appears to be using Inveruglas as a free depot to park its buses on a regular basis and the LLTNPA has simply allowed this to happen.  It’s a business encampment!   However, while the LLTNPA was using encampments in car parks to justify the proposed byelaws, it does not appear too worried about this one.  Indeed I don’t recollect any mention of business encampments during the byelaw consultations –  but maybe this was not happening back then.

 

What I find particularly interesting is the LLTNPA, whose rangers must know better than anyone from their daily patrols how often the buses are parked here, appears to be doing nothing about it.   If they think its a problem, why not act?   While there are specific remedies for encampments (see here) its much simpler with a business, you simply take out an interdict preventing them from ab/using your property.

 

If its not a problem though, what a missed opportunity.   Lochs and Glens – and I have nothing against it as successful bus tour business – is a member of Love Loch Lomond, which represents local tourist businesses.  Now while Love Loch Lomond supported the introduction of camping byelaws in its formal response to the Your Park consultation it was also in favour of more camping places, including new campsites, and specifically mentioned the  need for improvements to toilet and litter infrastructure.  Inveruglas is an ideal stopping off point on west Loch Lomond, its not close to houses and there is space for people to camp behind the scenic routes viewing tower.  However, while Inveruglas has a toilet, you can only access it at present through the cafe which closes.  So why not ask Lochs and Glens to install an additional toilet or a new external access to the existing one in return for free parking.   This would enable people to camp or stay in their campervans overnight with minimal impact.

 

Unfortunately, the agenda of the LLTNPA is to restrict access to the shores of our lochs, not just through the camping byelaws, but by installing gates across all its car parks and introducing parking charges wherever they can.   The LLTNPA is far too busy planning for this disaster to do anything creative like talk to Lochs and Glens and other businesses to come up with creative solutions to the issues.    I suspect local businesses could even be persuaded to pay for the installation of litter bins on every layby on the A82 (its not a lot of money) – which would have a far greater impact on litter than the camping byelaws –  if only the LLTNPA could persuade Argyll and Bute Council to get its bin lorries to stop as they trundle up the A82 and empty them.

 

4 Comments on “A business encampment on Loch Lomond?

  1. Hi Nick,
    Disappointed to see you post about Lochs and Glens coaches which you describe as a business encampment at Inveruglas. Buses have been parked overnight here for at least 20 years with the blessing of the NPA and its predecessors. If you delve back through planning applications of yesteryear I understand you will come across planning applications for extensions at Inversnaid Hotel with approvals linked to some planning conditions trying to minimise coach traffic on the narrow and twisting road from Aberfoyle to Inversnaid and taking most coach passengers over by ferry from Inveruglas which was a very pragmatic and environmentally responsible solution. My preference would be to see several coaches parked at Inveruglas overnight when use of the car park is limited anyway as opposed to encountering them twice daily on the Aberfoyle/Inversnaid Road which you flagged up concerns about linked to the Loch Chon planning application. I am also aware Lochs and Glens have been seeking information for some months now about parking charges planned at Inveruglas given it is the NPAs intention to charge here. Coaches are of course very environmentally friendly with 60 passengers on board which equates to 30 cars with 2 people on average. As it so happens we (the Friends) have a Make a Difference day at Inversnaid on Wednesday with 40 plus volunteers rhoddie bashing and repairing a stretch of the West Highland Way. If you are free you are more than welcome to participate and learn a little more about Lochs and Glens hotel operation there.

    1. James, its very helpful to know buses have been camped at Inveruglas for so long. You say though this is with the blessing of LLTNPA but the LLTNPA has put in writing to me that “The Park Authority has no agreement with Lochs and Glens for the use of the Inveruglas carpark” and they hold no information at all about this. This really surprised me, hence the post and suggestion that this was a business encampment, and if what you are saying is true, and I am sure it is, it would appear the LLTNPA has not been telling me the truth. I am not against Lochs and Glens using the carparks, but the LLTNPA should have been able to give an explanation as clearly as you have done and I do believe it would be appropriate for businesses to make a contribution in situations where they are not using the carparks as visitors but to lodge their vehicles. Its very strange under the LLTNPA’s commercialisation agenda, in which they want to charge for almost everything they can, that they have not so far charged Lochs and Glens and apparently had no dialogue at all about this. Nick

      1. Nick,
        I suspect the ‘blessing’ to use the car park overnight pre-dates the NPA given the history of the Inversnaid Hotel expansion and the NPA has simply allowed, sensibly in my view, for the existing informal arrangement to continue. I doubt if NPA staff will know the history of what the arrangement was pre the NPA formation. I will check my sources. Lochs and Glens do of course pay a six figure sum in business rates for this hotel and each of their other hotels in the NPA so strictly speaking they are not ‘free loading’. I also do not think Lochs and Glens would object to paying a reasonable amount for overnight parking at Inveruglas as long as the NPA doesn’t go over the top as this would simply result in generating more coach traffic on the narrow and winding Aberfoyle to Inversnaid Road which is in no one’s interest. Lochs and Glens are halfway through a £5 million remodelling and upgrading programme at Inversnaid Hotel and the enlargement of existing rooms has seen an overall reduction in the number of rooms which equates to one coachload. Due to changing circumstances in the marketplace in recent years the hotel has reverted to winter closing so for several months there will be no overnight coach parking at Inversnaid which means the wildlife can have the car park to themselves!!

  2. James, this is all very helpful information. My fundamental point was about the hyprocrisy of the LLTNPA who are trying to stop all overnight stays by campervans etc along the lochsides in the Park when they have been allowing Lochs and Glens to use this carpark, as it transpires for years. Most campers and carvaners, just like Lochs and Glens leave no trace………….I suspect though the LLTNPA, who are proposing NOT to charge local residents for using carparks (this is stated in their tender for automatic number plate recognition systems as an exception to the charging) will, when they realise it could affect Lochs and Glens too (and its a perfectly sensible “arrangement” in terms of linking with Inversnaid) exempt certain local businesses. The people who will end up paying most are the hillwalkers, or people who leave their car to go camping overnight at Loch Sloy, who leave their car for hours or even for a weekend to go and do the healthy activities the LLTNPA is supposed to be encouraging.

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