GREEN Party and SNP politicians have added their voices to growing concern over plans for a major development in a tiny hamlet near Garelochhead.

Ross Greer, the Scottish Greens' MSP for the West of Scotland, and SNP Westminster candidate Brendan O'Hara have both visited Portincaple to hear from local residents about their fears over proposals to build up to 36 new homes and a 22-bedroom hotel on the east shore of Loch Long.

Details of a ‘masterplan’ for the development of the site, drawn up by Helensburgh firm Pure Greenspace Architects, were revealed in a ‘screening application’ lodged with Argyll and Bute Council in July, though developer Pelham Olive has yet to submit a formal planning application to the local authority.

However, people living in the area now say they expect a planning application to be lodged with the council in the coming weeks.

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Mr Greer, who met members of the Portincaple Residents' Association on a visit to the site last week, said: “These plans are obviously inappropriate and I will certainly be supporting the community in defending Portincaple from this colossal overdevelopment.

“It’s pure foolishness for 36 houses – some as large as eight bedrooms – and a hotel to be squeezed into lochside woodland with the only proposed access along a narrow residential road that’s clearly not designed to support the extra traffic.

“It’s hard to see how this wouldn’t result in the destruction of ancient woodland and a special habitat for wildlife.

“It would certainly fundamentally change the village and it’s no wonder that the residents who met me - many of whom have lived in Portincaple all their life - are unanimously against this development being forced on them.”

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Mr O’Hara, who was the MP for the area until Parliament’s dissolution this week, and who is standing for the SNP in next month’s general election, also visited the site on Monday.

He said: “My default position is to support anything that brings jobs, investment and growth to Argyll and Bute, but this seems like nonsense to me and just doesn’t add up.

“It brings none of the benefits we would look for and is completely inappropriate for this site in Portincaple.”

Members of the Portincaple Residents’ Association say the planned development would “more than double the size of the village in one fell swoop”, and they hope the support from Ross Greer, as well as fellow MSPs Jackie Baillie and Maurice Corry, can convince planning officials to reconsider.

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Gemma Kimmett, chair of the group, said: “Some residents like myself have lived in Portincaple our entire lives and it’s devastating to be faced with the prospect of such destruction of such a special place.

“Apart from the human impact, Portincaple is home to a wealth of protected species including red squirrels, pine martens, curlew and many others.

“We recently discovered that our part of Loch Long is home to a little sea squirt relic (Styela gelatinosa) from the last ice age and this is the only known location where it exists in the UK.

“This sea squirt depends and grows on sunken wood and relies on the natural cycle of tree debris in the loch which could be threatened by the removal of trees for this monstrous proposed development.

“We strongly urge the council planners to see sense and refuse this application.”

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