THIS week's Advertiser letters page features your views on the controversial plans to build houses at Portincaple on the Loch Long shore, the regeneration of Hermitage Park, and the transportation of nuclear warheads to Coulport.

To have your say on any topic of local interest, just email your thoughts to or get in touch with us via the Send Us Your News section of this website.

Please try and keep your contributions as brief and to-the-point as you can, and to provide us with your name and address.

We also require a daytime contact phone number in case we need to check any details at short notice, though this will not be published.

Happy writing!

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My interest in the Portincaple planning application, covered in the Advertiser’s news pages and letters column recently, stems from an antipathy to misinformation and my belief that the project offers many benefits for the area.

Unfortunately the coverage a couple of weeks ago somehow missed that.

There is a great deal of social media comment relating to this application, but much of it seems of dubious provenance.

Social media is a very effective way to spread information of all sorts and is the perfect tool for inflaming or bending public opinion, but when we see it used to spread misinformation, we should be wary.

Having conducted a careful analysis of the objections I note that many are essentially copies of a standard text, significantly in most respects closely matching an objection lodged by Ross Greer MSP on April 30 featuring faux concern for the environment – covering everything from ancient woodland to bats and sea squirts, although nowhere did I see any worries raised about the common red herring!

In fact, as my photo above shows, all the developer has done is to clear invasive rhododendrons which have been damaging the woodland, and he is to be congratulated for doing so.

‘Planning gain’ and public access were other themes missed. A few years ago, in an effort to re-establish the historic public access to Portincaple’s beautiful foreshore, a local volunteer group got as far as the feasibility study stage, but their efforts were aggressively stymied by members of the Portincaple community. Mr Olive’s application offers a real opportunity to address this issue.

Nowadays Portincaple finds itself well placed in relation to one of Scotland’s Great Trails, the Three Lochs Way, and it is my understanding the applicant is keen to explore how it could benefit by being linked to this increasingly popular walking route.

Also the applicant’s imaginative idea to re-establish a public jetty – a direct reference to Portincaple’s ancient role as a gateway to Argyll – opens up all sorts of interesting possibilities for water sports and the relatively untapped recreational and tourism potentials of the area.

This of course would be the perfect location for some interpretation, perhaps in the form of a new Clyde Sea Lochs Trail panel, the better to inform visitors and locals about Portincaple’s cultural heritage, wonderful wildlife and stunning setting.

None of this need harm Loch Long or the character and setting of Portincaple.

Nevertheless, it is­ true that Loch Long is beset by many real environmental threats and concerns – whether it be the dreadful issue of marine litter concentrations at the head of the loch, the disgraceful abandonment by the UK government of the old torpedo testing facility opposite Tighness in Arrochar, the swamping of so many hillsides by the monoculture of commercial forestry, the ever widening spread of Rhododendron ponticum threatening to wipe out our diminishing preserves of native Atlantic oakwood, or the Finnart oil terminal which dominates the loch just north of Portincaple.

Yet despite all of the above, Loch Long is still beautiful. And hopefully this has now been given some sort of recognition by the loch being at least partly wrapped around by Scotland’s first National Park.

Mr Greer’s “green” campaigners say they want to “Save Loch Long”. As a firm proponent of the green agenda, I think it should and could be better looked after, but targeting a perfectly reasonable planning application to build 12 houses at Portincaple seems a strange way to go about it – and frankly Mr Greer’s campaign has a distinct whiff of “NIMBYism” laced with a fair amount of political opportunism.

At the end of the day, good planning comes down to balancing narrow sectional interest against the greater good – and achieving that balance simply comes down to the facts and the exercise of good judgement.

There is no doubt in my mind where the greater good lies here. Especially in the aftermath of Covid we need to grow the economy, there is a need for modern, energy efficient houses, Portincaple has the space and a superb site for them, Argyll needs the population, and the scheme offers so much potential for natural and cultural heritage, public access, leisure and recreation.

I say let the planners and the developer get on with it!

John Urquhart, Colquhoun Street, Helensburgh

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READ MORE: Readers' letters to the Advertiser: July 2, 2020

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I completely agree with Mr and Mrs Bone (Advertiser Comment, July 2) that the present state of Hermitage Park is not what we expected to see six years on from all the fanfare when the lottery funding grant was announced.

I also recall the considerable efforts made by local people and “Friends” of the Park who raised money in various ways to augment the Heritage Lottery grant.

What is there to show for all this effort? Walking round the park today you will see overgrown flower beds, very little colour, and not even a daffodil planted to give some cheer in the springtime.

This was the case last year too, so lockdown should not be an excuse.

The absence of a park manager will no doubt be given as another excuse for inaction. If I am correct, the post has been vacant for many months and applicants not yet interviewed, despite the technology available to do so.

I look forward to a response on the letters page, perhaps from the Chair of Friends of Hermitage Park?

Elizabeth Mueller, East Argyle Street, Helensburgh

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READ MORE: Your letters to the Advertiser: June 25, 2020

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The eminent journalist and former SNP MP George Kerevan has suggested shutting down the London tube network, and peaceably blocking roads in central London, if Scotland’s demand for an independence referendum continues to be denied.

While one may question the wisdom of alienating citizens by frustrating their efforts to travel, there is no doubt that non-violent direct action (NVDA) as advocated by Gandhi and Martin Luther King, plays a vital role in democratic political life.

Just think of the civil rights movement in America and Northern Ireland. As a member of Trident Ploughshares, I have personally supported such action in the past, and been jailed six times for my efforts. I intend to continue till Trident is scrapped.

Even as I write, a convoy is en route to Coulport carrying several warheads. This will travel through cities and towns, putting people at terrible risk.

Investigative journalists from The Ferret have revealed that convoys have been involved in 43 near accidents, or “incidents”, in the last three years.

Further back than that, I personally witnessed one when a convoy broke down on the slipway off Erskine Bridge in 1993 and lay vulnerable to the passing traffic for four hours.

On another occasion, I was following a convoy up the M74, the way one does, when smoke began pouring out from the rear of a carrier. The police hurriedly directed the convoy into a service station and waved the traffic on. Dry lipped, I put the boot down…

The supreme ethical issue of our age is our readiness to effect human extinction with nuclear weapons. All other moral problems are relatively minor in comparison. Unionists support Trident; all supporters of independence reject it.

There is an impassable moral gulf between thee positions; either you press the button, or you don’t. Choose.

I would like to suggest a more practical refinement of George Kerevan’s proposal, which unites the laudable political goal of independence with our moral rejection of Trident, issues which are ontologically inseparable.

I suggest that we stop the nuclear convoy when next it comes up to the border. The convoy commander is informed that we refuse to be complicit in his criminal activities, and demand that the convoy return whence it came. George Kerevan could take a leading role in organising this.

This would be a demonstration of real and actual independence. Scotland could then join the 122 states which signed the TPNW (Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons) three years ago on July 7.

And we might have a future after all.

Brian Quail, 2 Hyndland Avenue, Glasgow

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