News from the districts – May 2, 2021

Kilchoman Distillery has been given permission by council chiefs to add to its storage space. 

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Isle of Islay

An Islay whisky distillery has been given permission by council chiefs to add to its storage space.

Kilchoman Distillery applied to Argyll and Bute Council to build a single bonded warehouse on land south-east of its premises.

Objections were made that there was evidence of golden eagle activity nearby, with concerns also raised over the potential impacts on natural habitats.

But council planning officers gave it the thumbs up with a finding that there was ‘little evidence’ of the site being used by protected species.

A council officer said: ‘There were representations made regarding the welfare of the protected wildlife and the proposer has outlined mitigation in place or planned.

‘The area, being predominantly rush and grass, is generally not used by chough and corncrake.

‘However, there is a chough hut around 700 metres away from the proposed warehouse that is used by a pair of chough.

‘During the recent period of ongoing works at the distillery the chough have continued to nest and breed.

‘The applicant has used the information from the RSPB studies to look at the neighbouring farm in order to target resource at improving the area’s corncrake actual use.’

Oban

A new tourism and hospitality group has been set up for Oban.

Oban Tourism Group (OTG) has been created from the Oban, Lorn and Tourism Alliance (OLTA) organisation with BID4Oban as a co-founder.

The change comes as many of OLTA’s functions were taken on this year by the Argyll and the Isles Tourism Cooperative (AITC), a regional destination management organisation.

Oban’s Neil Mackay, who served as chairman of OLTA, remains as the new chairman of Oban Tourism Group, which will also have a seat around the AITC board to champion the area.

Oban Tourism Group will largely act as an advisory and promotional group with a focus on local activities, events and festivals.

One of the tourism group’s first achievements is the replacement of the webcam at the Northern Lighthouse Board to provide better quality images of the area, and securing the future of its ongoing running costs and that of its neighbouring camera on the North Pier which will be be met by BID4Oban.

The purchase of the camera follows a successful £3,500 online fundraising campaign backed with donations by more than 90 supporters.

Arrochar

A councillor’s hopes of having a Loch Lomond-side bus service extended to Arrochar have been dashed by ‘legislation’, community chiefs have heard.

Lomond North councillor Iain S Paterson queried the possibility of Strathclyde Passenger Transport (SPT) extending the 305 service, which runs from Alexandria and Balloch to Luss.

But Allan Comrie, senior transport planner with SPT, said that commercial services operated by another company prevented that from happening.

As well as those commercial services, which are operated under the Scottish Citylink banner between Glasgow and either Campbeltown or Oban, a bus service also operates from Helensburgh to Arrochar three times a day, continuing from the village to either Succoth or Carrick Castle.

The discussion took place at a virtual meeting of Argyll and Bute Council’s Helensburgh and Lomond community planning group on May 20.

Councillor Paterson said: ‘A couple of years ago I wrote to SPT about extending the bus service to Luss, and why it could not be extended to Arrochar and Tarbet.

‘I don’t have the email in front of me, but why is it that the service from Balloch, terminating at Luss, cannot be extended?’

Mr Comrie replied: ‘I take your point, which is very well made, but we are hamstrung by legislation.

‘There are commercial services and for us, as a public body, it would not be in our best interests to run separate bus services.’