CLAIMS that a former outdoor activity centre on the shore of Loch Lomond has fallen into disrepair have been rubbished by the authority responsible for the building.

West Dunbartonshire Council (WDC) shot down suggestions from the community that the condition of the Ardlui Outdoor Activity Centre site has deteriorated since it was handed it over to a cancer charity in October.

An agreement was struck last year paving the way for the Rainbow Valley charity to take over the lease and convert the centre into a cancer therapy unit.

The decision allowed the group to develop the building at McGregor’s Landing into a residential centre for holistic therapies to support people affected by cancer.

Part of the agreement saw WDC agree to paying the lease on Ardlui for 18 months while Rainbow Valley raised £2m needed to convert the site and another £600,000 for running costs.

There had been speculation the site had deteriorated since the handover – and that a colony of bats, a protected species, could hamper any further alteration work.

But this week a council spokeswoman insisted the facility – which the council still pays £69,000 to lease annually – is regularly inspected and there is nothing untoward in terms of the condition of the former centre.

She said: “The council currently pays an annual rent of £69,000 to landlords Loch Lomond Assets Limited for Ardlui Outdoor Activity Centre.

“The property has not fallen into disrepair and is regularly inspected by council property co-ordinators.”

Robert Raynor, Scottish Natural Heritage mammal specialist, said the colony of bats, which are understood to have been there for many years – and are restricted to the roof space of the building – should not prevent the development of the site to take place.

He said: “Bats have suffered major declines historically, and they remain vulnerable to the loss of secure roost sites.

“They have a low reproductive rate and females usually only give birth to one young each year.

“For this reason, both bats and their roost sites are protected by law in Scotland.

“It’s an offence to deliberately or recklessly kill, injure or disturb a wild bat and to obstruct or disturb a bat roost, even if bats are not present at the time.

“It’s unlikely that the presence of bats will prevent development taking place.

“But if impacts on bats are predicted, then the law requires that the work is done at the right time of year in a way that doesn’t affect the animals.”

In 2015 campaigners fighting to save the Ardlui outdoor centre from closure handed a petition containing almost 2,000 signatures to the council’s education chief.

The petition called on the council to reverse its decision to shut the centre to save £110,000 as part of sweeping budget cuts.

A ‘review’ of the service at Ardlui – which provided activities such as kayaking, mountain biking and abseiling for school pupils across the region as well as further afield – took place.

But it was one of the cuts approved by councillors in a bid to plug a £17 million budget gap.

However, in October last year a deal was agreed to enable Rainbow Valley take over the site.

The charity’s founder Angela MacVicar set up the organisation after the death of her daughter, Johanna, from cancer, with a dream of providing the kind of facility Johanna would have wished for.

At the time Ms MacVicar said she was “delighted” with the decision and stated that the “hard work” had already begun to raise the £2.6 million needed to create the centre.