LOCH LOMOND, scene of a long-running acrimonious feud over administration of angling, is set for a further storm this week about plans by Scotland’s first national park authority to introduce charges for boat launching and registration of water-borne craft.

A board meeting of the park authority, which receives a £7 million annual subsidy from the Scottish Government, will today formally discuss the proposals which envisage a £15 per day charge for use of the public slipway at Balloch and a £30 annual fee for registration of all boats using the loch.

Lomond: £15 launch fee plan

Loch Lomond, jewel in the crown of Scottish tourism, attracts thousands of visitors each year, many of whom specifically travel to enjoy cruising, fishing, sailing and other water activities.

But outrage has been mounting among loch users in recent days following a series of exploratory meetings held by Charlotte Wallace, the Loch Lomond and Trossachs park authority’s water resources manager.

Now the organisation which has represented the interests of all of the loch’s recreational users for more than 30 years has openly condemned the plans and bitterly complained about “deception” involved in the presentation of the proposals.

Peter Jack, chairman of Loch Lomond Association (LLA), whose honorary president is the Duke of Montrose, said yesterday:

“Those who were approached by the NPA on this matter were given virtually no time at all to canvas the views fo their boat-using members before the annoucement was made. Even then, the NPA gave mixed messages.”

He said his management committee was told that the £30 registration charge was only a request for a voluntary donation, while others including marinas and some clubs, were told it would be mandatory.

“Those who have spoken to the LLA have said that they are furious at such an apparently blatant attempt to deceive them into obliging their members to pay up.” Other objectors are understood to include national sailing body, RYA Scotland, Dumbarton MSP Jackie Baillie and local angling clubs.

Jack claims the national park has no statutory authority to levy the charge either as an enforced donation or as a quasi-legitimate charge. He also accuses the NPA of vicitimisation.

“The LLA takes particular exception to the NPA’s continuing apparent attempts to single-out loch boat users uniquely for surcharges. First it was to have been car parking charges introduced only in the two NPA car parks associated with boat launching out of 16 in total. That has been deferred for now.

“However, the NPA is widely perceived on Loch Lomond to be anti-boating and its money-making ideas never seem to distribute planned surcharges fairly across all categories of visitors . . .”

Dr Mike Cantlay, conver of the national park authority

The Loch Lomond national park authority board is made up of 17 members, the majority of them local councillors. They are led by Dr Mike Cantlay who is also chair of VisitScotland, the national tourist organisation.

Papers for today’s meeting state that “impending budgetary cuts” of between 4% and 15% over the next three years mean the authority can no longer afford the £500,000 a year needed to provide professional “water services” on the loch.

It says the charges will cover 20% of the money needed for “ the operational cost of the Water Rangers, craft maintenance, visitor management and the wider National Park experience” and also the “the annual operational, staffing and maintenance costs of NP launch/retrieval facilities.”

The £30 annual “operations” charge will take effect from January 31 and the launch fee from April 1 next year.