A COMMUNITY campaign against a potential major development on the shore of Loch Long will be launched in Helensburgh next week.

“Protect Portincaple – Save Loch Long” was set up in the wake of outline proposals for a hotel with 22 bedrooms and up to 36 new homes, for a site on the east shore of the loch, going public last summer.

Details of a masterplan for the development of the site near Garelochhead, drawn up by Helensburgh firm Pure Greenspace Architects, were revealed in a “screening opinion” application lodged with Argyll and Bute Council in July.

No formal planning application has yet been published for the site but that hasn’t stopped the Portincaple Residents’ Association setting up their campaign – which will be launched at a public meeting in Helensburgh Parish Church on Monday, January 20, at 7pm.

Invitations have been sent to constituency MSP Jackie Baillie, as well as Ross Greer, the Green MSP for the west of Scotland, and Nick Kempe from Parkswatch Scotland, a former board member of Scottish Natural Heritage.

READ MORE: Major lochside development proposal goes public

All three have already given their public backing to Portincaple residents’ concerns over the risk of over-development.

Christine Pratt, secretary of the Portincaple Residents’ Association, which has set up the campaign, said: “We have had many sleepless nights since these proposals were made public, and we are still wondering when, or if, it’s going to materialise in the form of a planning application.

“We’ve still had only one piece of communication from the developer. That was at a community council meeting in Garelochhead last June, and we’ve heard nothing further.

“We’ve decided to go ahead and set up a campaign group, not just to seek answers about this proposal in particular but to campaign against over-development of the area in general.”

READ MORE: Portincaple residents raise fears over Loch Long housing and hotel plans

The screening opinion application last summer sought the council’s view on whether an environmental impact assessment (EIA) would be required as part of any formal request for planning permission.

Council officials said at the time they did not believe an EIA would be necessary, “on the basis that any impacts would be minimal and issues of environmental concern can be addressed by way of appropriate information supporting a planning application”.

In November, Mr Greer mentioned the Portincaple proposal during a Scottish Parliament debate on development around Loch Lomond, while Conservative West of Scotland MSP and Helensburgh resident Maurice Corry has also voiced his concern.

Brendan O’Hara did likewise on a visit to the area during his successful campaign to be re-elected as Argyll and Bute’s MP in last month’s general election.

READ MORE: Helensburgh's MP admits 'surprise' at scale of Portincaple plans

“We’ve all been really heartened by the cross-party support we’ve received,” Ms Pratt said.

“We want to make people aware, not just of what could happen in Portincaple, but what could be at stake in areas of panoramic quality across Scotland.”

The site is part of the designated “settlement area” in Portincaple, both in the current local development plan and in Local Development Plan 2, which is out for public consultation until next week.

Ms Pratt continued: “Clearance of the land, in the form of cutting down of trees, started towards the end of 2017, and we’ve been wondering ever since when anything is going to happen following that devastation – and it was devastation.

“That was the first inkling we had that something was going to happen.”

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