Plan for Loch Lomond slipway charges
Boat owners are to be charged to use slipways on Loch Lomond under national park plans.
The slipways at Balloch and Milarrochy Bay are currently free, but will cost £15 a time to use - plus an annual fee - if the proposals are approved.
Charging could be in place by January if agreed by the national park board.
The authority said budget cuts meant it was no longer economically viable to provide the £500,000-a-year service to boat owners for free.
Loch Lomond and The Trossachs is the only national park that does not currently charge for use of water-related services.
Funds raised from loch users will contribute towards "maintaining and further enhancing" the facilities for boat owners, the national park said.
The plans will be discussed at a national park board meeting on 13 December. The first of the charges would be implemented from 31 January 2011 if approved.
Any boat owners launching sail or motorised craft at Duncan Mills Memorial slipway in Balloch or Milarrochy Bay slipway on the east shore of Loch Lomond would have to pay fees.
Instead of the £15 "day use" charge, boat owners could opt for a £55 annual fee giving them unlimited use of the slipways.
But all owners will have to pay an annual "operations payment" of £30 on top of that.
A spokesman for the national park said: "Loch Lomond is one of the best managed and safest lochs in the UK due to the many functions provided by the National Park Authority.
"Thousands of users on Loch Lomond benefit from these services which are currently funded by a block grant from the Scottish government."
But Glasgow boat owner David Kent, a regular user of the slipways, said the new regulations were designed to preserve the authority's "ideal" view of the park.
"As it stands there is minimal public access to the loch, so this restriction will impact upon the general public the most whilst leaving loch residents and private access points unhampered," he said.
"I am disappointed but not surprised by this step, after previous steps to ban camping, alcohol and speed restrictions."
The park authority have spent thousands on white elephants such as the sculpture on the A82, a multi-million pound headquarters, tens of motor vehicles, fancy motor launches. It is therefore no surprise that they now find themselves spending too much. Raising it from water users is not correct as the water should be accessible to all for free. The Loch was enjoyed by all for free before the PA existed. The money spent by the park has done very little to improve that enjoyment apart from add speed traps, paperwork, registration and restrictions.
They should look closer to home for savings and not tax both local and tourist visitors to Scotlands wonderful scenery.
From: Ian, Balloch
The proposed charges are too high and should be vigorously challenged. The charge should be aligned to the size of water craft and the proposed use. Large speed boats and powerful Jet Skis should be charged more than a fishing boat, the new charges are bang over the top.
From: Andrew Carson
Not surprised in the least, they have found an income generator.
Boat owners like myself bring income to the town when we visit.
I'm all for the charge IF the slip will be run in a more professional manner by staff, it's usually a free for all during the summer months leading to waiting times of up to 2 hours at busy times to recover.
Also think its time the 'Authority' thought up more silly bylaws to discourage more visitors to the area, I'm all for anti social behaviour being stamped out but come on the speed restrictions are a joke and will only get worse.
From: Graham, Gartcosh
Ian (above) has already summed up most of my feelings regarding this slipway charge. All this National Park has done has made Loch Lomond less accessible for locals and visitors alike.
From: Susan, Balloch
A boat is for enjoyment not to pay expensive costs over and above insurance and petrol, this added cost is bringing down the little luxury people have after coming home from work to have a break up the loch with something that is a relaxation after working all week. It should be to the outsiders that come from Glasgow and afar that pay for the slip not the ones who have stayed here all their lives.
From: David Thomson, Dumbarton