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Highland Council planning bid to double the capacity of a holiday park at Foyers, overlooking Loch Ness, faces opposition

By Alasdair Fraser

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Foyers from above.
Foyers from above.

Plans to more than double the number of cabins at a leafy holiday park overlooking Loch Ness are facing opposition.

McTaggart Properties Ltd is seeking Highland Council planning permission to erect six new holiday properties at the Lodges on Loch Ness site at Foyers.

Only two of the existing five cabins at the site are operated by the firm and the owners say quadrupling the number of their units to eight would make it a "far more successful and profitable business".

But in response to the application, Highland Council’s forestry team is warning the development would threaten mature Scots Pine and broadleaf trees within 4.4 hectares of woodland that is listed within the Ancient Woodland Inventory.

The council forestry team report states: “The site is within existing young conifer woodland with a mix of species present and it stands on steeply sloping ground down to the west.

“There is a band of mature Scots pine around the eastern side of the site and adjacent to the B852 and there are mature mixed broadleaves on the west side of the site, which appear to be within the applicant’s ownership.

“The whole site is within an area listed in the Ancient Woodland Inventory as Ancient semi-natural origin although it would best be referred to as Plantation on Ancient Woodland Site.

“I appreciate this is a planning in principle (PIP) application and the layout is merely indicative, but the red-line of the application is drawn relatively tightly around the proposed units, so it is possible to determine the likely adverse impact on trees or woodland.”

The consultation response points out that new access roads would need to be built, while parts of an existing access route would need to be widened and reinforced for construction purposes.

This, it says, could lead to “woodland loss down the slope”.

While two of the proposed chalets would be on open ground and not have any adverse impact, four “would have a significant impact” on woodland.

The report concludes: “The proposals… would result in loss of ancient woodlands, ancient and veteran trees, or adversely impact on their ecological condition.

“(They) do not demonstrate the need to develop a wooded site (or) show that the site has capacity to accommodate the development.

“They do not offer clear and significant public benefit and they do not provide compensatory planting.

“I therefore object to the application.

“The applicant would need to reduce the number of units or concentrate development in existing open ground before I would be in a position to support.”

A supporting statement lodged alongside the planning application said: "The current holiday park is not operating at optimal efficiency, with the business having to run only two units in a large area.

A supporting statement for the applicants said: "The current holiday park is not operating at optimal efficiency, with the business having to run only two units in a large area.

"The potential space is there to properly diversify the available units, developing this into a far more successful and profitable business and providing far more choice for tourists."

The new cabins would be a mix of one, two and five bedroom properties, to provide added variety to the existing two three-bedroom units.

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