SCOTLAND'S environmental watchdog has been alerted over fears that digging in woodland in a lochside village near Helensburgh may leave nearby homes at risk of flooding.

A resident of Back Road in Clynder says the burn at nearby Nurses Brae has been dug up by workmen who reportedly tried to take a 22-tonne digger up a private road.

Argyll and Bute Council has reported the matter to the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) – but has moved to ease fears of flooding in the area.

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The resident said: “The woodland has recently been purchased by somebody, but they don’t have access.

“It is a private road – even I am not allowed to drive up it.

“They came up with a 22-tonne digger, drove it up the hill on a single track road, and proceeded on to a private road.

“They went behind my neighbour’s house and dug a trench through to their property, and dug up the burn, which runs through my property.

“The burn is just not flowing down, and if the tunnel which carries it under the road gets blocked, then there will be flooding issues.

“This is a time when birds are nesting, and instead all the muddy water will be going into the Gareloch.”

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A council spokesperson said: “A workman on the site was advised by a council officer on Monday, March 25 that no vehicle heavier than eight tonnes could access the path.

“The following day, officers went to inspect the site to establish if a breach of planning control had occurred as no planning permission was granted in this area.

“There was no activity on site, no digger or construction traffic present.

"It would appear there has been an attempt to create an access track from the lane over the burn and onto land that once formed part of Gareloch House, which was recently sold.

“The burn is still running and does not pose any immediate threat, but we have referred the matter to SEPA.

“Planning investigations will also involve a search of the General Register of Sasines to identify the new owners of the land.

“Once these parties have been identified the council may take formal action to establish what the intention is of the new landowner and if this requires planning permission.”