PARTS of Helensburgh and Lomond are on the verge of becoming "a police or military state", a councillor has claimed, over plans to introduce traffic limits on a section of road along Loch Long.

George Freeman issued the warning as members of Argyll and Bute Council's Helensburgh and Lomond area committee discussed proposed limits at Glen Mallan and Glen Douglas in connection with the loading of munitions on to Royal Navy ships.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) had asked the council to consider complete closures of the A814 between Finnart and Arrochar during times, in the future, when the Royal Navy's new Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers are having their munitions supplies replenished at the Glen Mallan jetty on the east shore of the loch.

But council officials instead recommended pursuing a 'clearway' option which would prevent vehicles stopping on sections of the road near Glen Mallan during times when munitions are being loaded or unloaded – and the Helensburgh councillor who chairs the committee said complete closure of the road would be "ridiculous".

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The MoD has already unveiled plans to substantially upgrade the Glen Mallan berth to enable it to cater for the new, larger Navy vessels.

Councillor Freeman said: “I am opposed to the [closure] proposal, it’s totally unacceptable.

“We are getting near to a police or military state in this area.”

The Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) preferred option was for the A814 between Finnart and Arrochar to be completely closed to traffic during loading times, in order to “eliminate the risk to the travelling public from explosives”.

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However, Argyll and Bute councillors favoured a ‘clearway’ instead, prohibiting vehicles from stopping within the boundary, similar to the restrictions on the A82 at Loch Lomond.

A report to the area committee, prepared by executive director of development and infrastructure Pippa Milne, said: “Officers consider that closing the A814, even for relatively short periods, is likely to generate a significant volume of objections and will introduce a burden to the travelling public.

“Although this [clearway] does not prevent vehicles from passing along the A814 during loading operations, it does reduce the risk to a transient one, as vehicles would not be permitted to stop within the clearway.”

Asking for further information on the clearway proposal, Councillor Freeman added: “These large boats are only going to come in for a three-day period once every 18 months.

“We seem to be taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut here.

“Most of the time there are no other vessels at the jetty. You’re lucky if there are half a dozen in a year.”

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Councillor Ellen Morton, chair of the area committee, said: “The MoD’s preferred option is to close the road, but that’s certainly not ours.

“A clearway is different from a closure; traffic can drive through that area but can’t stop.

“The MoD’s preference is for the risk to be reduced to zero. From their point of view, the best way of having no risk in the area is to close the road.

“Let's not go down the road of being ridiculous. We make decisions that involve risk all the time.”

Councillors agreed unanimously to progress the clearway proposal, which may include night time closures and lengthy diversions being implemented at short notice.