Loch Lomond slipway charges approved
Plans to charge boat owners who use two popular slipways on Loch Lomond have been approved by the National Park Authority.
The slipways at Balloch and Milarrochy Bay are currently free, but will cost £15 a time to use from 1 April 2011.
Boat owners will also be asked to make a voluntary annual payment of £30 to help cover rescue services.
The Loch Lomond Association (LLA) said it expected there to be "major public resistance" to the new charges.
Any boat owners requiring a "motorised launch" at Duncan Mills Memorial slipway in Balloch or Milarrochy Bay slipway on the east shore of Loch Lomond will have to pay fees. No fee will be charged if the craft can be carried from the car park, the national park said.
Instead of the £15 "day use" charge, boat owners can opt for a £55 annual fee giving them unlimited use of the slipways.
Boat owner 'confusion'
A spokesman for the LLA, a lobbying group for loch users, has criticised the national park for its "inadequate consultative approach" over the fees.
LLA chairman Peter Jack said: "Those who were approached by the NPA [National Park Authority] on this matter were given virtually no time at all to canvas the views of their boat-using members before the announcement was made.
"The LLA takes particular exception to the NPA's continuing apparent attempts to single out loch boat users uniquely for surcharges."
Mr Jack added that there was confusion among boat owners about whether the new "annual operations payment" was a voluntary or mandatory fee.
But a spokesman from the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park confirmed after the park authority board meeting that it would be voluntary.
He said: "That payment is a contribution towards the cost of providing safety and security services, including the ranger service.
"Obviously it's a voluntary payment that we're seeking, but we hope people recognise the value of the services that we provide."
Cash raised from the operations fee would go towards a payment that the national park makes to the Loch Lomond rescue boat service of at least £5,000 per year, the spokesman said.
The national park said impending budget cuts meant it was no longer economically viable to provide the £500,000-a-year service to boat owners for free.
It is the only national park that does not currently charge for use of water-related services.