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Local authority's campervan plan causes division in Highland community


By Alasdair Fraser

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PLANS to create a giant campervan and caravan park just north of the Kessock Bridge have split local opinion.

Picture: Alasdair Allen. Image No. 034694..Picnic areaSouth side car parkNorth Kessock.
Picture: Alasdair Allen. Image No. 034694..Picnic areaSouth side car parkNorth Kessock.

Highland Council wants to generate income by extending the present car park and picnic area by the A9 above North Kessock into an overnight stop-off point for touring vehicles.

The change of use planning application proposes 30 berths with electrical hook-ups, just off the northbound carriageway.

The development would extend the existing picnic area and skirt the dual carriageway to roughly half-a-kilometre either side of the Harry Gow bakery shop.

Car-parking spaces would be retained, with improved toilet and shower blocks added. Given the huge popularity of the North Coast 500 route starting and finishing in Inverness, there is potential for significant revenue generation from the project.

But Knockbain Community Council chairman John Stott, who has been consulting the community, said opinion is divided.

Mr Stott said: “It has been pretty much 50-50, I’d say. There is a wee bit of concern about noise, and litter from people whose properties back onto the site. Those concerns are absolutely understandable.

“Perhaps the biggest worry is the safety of the exit onto the A9. I presume all the relevant authorities will put in their tuppenceworth on that as none of us are roads or water and sewage engineers.

“While feeling is split 50-50, it is probably bordering on the positive with slightly more in favour of it, with some caveats. We’re a wee bit concerned that the traffic survey of passing A9 traffic was out of date and carried out in the winter when the road is quieter.

“Another big concern is what form site management will take. That is not strictly a planning issue, but it is relevant. We’ll be looking for clarity on that. Certainly, we would hope the site is not left unstaffed. We’re assuming the council wants a revenue stream and it won’t be just a free-for-all. But if concerns are met, there will, hopefully, be some economic benefits for North Kessock.”

Consultation ends this week, with mixed opinions already voiced.

“Owen Smith, a member of the Residents Association of North Kessock, described the group as “largely-supportive” but expressed some concern over the inclusion of caravans in the project.

Resident Joseph Lindsay, whose home at Main Street, North Kessock backs onto the site, raised concerns including loss of privacy, pollution and litter, while Maria Crossan raised fears of road danger approaching the turn-off.

But many were supportive, pointing out that other parts of Europe catered far better for campervans.

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