Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority have taken further action to stop unauthorized development on an environmentally sensitive area of land.
A Temporary Stop Notice has been issued in relation to works recently carried out on land between Stroneslaney Road and the River Balvaig near Balquhidder.
The park authority says no planning permission has been sought or granted for the work.
In a statement earlier this year, it highlighted concern over the marketing of small plots of land for sale at the location following a similar situation at a site near Gartocharn.
Park officials say the plots are in a flood risk area so any development would be unlikely to receive planning permission but, despite engagement with the landowner and selling agent to make the constraints clear, a number of plots have been sold and unauthorized engineering works carried out .
With further plots continuing to be marketed at auction, the park authority is again warning potential buyers to beware of buying plots of land which are not suitable for development.
Stuart Mearns, Director of Place at LLTNPA, said: “We, along with the local community, are deeply concerned that work has commenced on this land.
“This development activity has not been authorized and is on an area of land which has a number of environmentally important qualities which mean it is unlikely to receive planning permission.
“Unauthorized development in a national park is an extremely serious matter and we are taking urgent enforcement action by issuing a Temporary Stop Notice. This requires all development activity to cease immediately. We are closely monitoring activity on this site. Further enforcement action is being considered and steps will be taken if needed.
“Also particularly worrying is that purchasers of the plots don’t appear to be aware of the sensitive environment or planning restrictions at this location. Plots on this land are still being marketed for sale without detailing the significant constraints of the site.
“Anyone purchasing these plots would be very unlikely to receive permission to develop them as they are in an environmentally sensitive landscape where there is a risk of flooding. We are keen to engage with those who have recently bought a plot here and to prevent anyone else from buying a plot without fully understanding these constraints.”
The NPA is also liaising with the community and partner organisations.
David Johnston, chair of Balquhidder, Lochearnhead and Strathyre Community Council, said: “The residents and community of Balquhidder are extremely concerned about what is happening on some land near to Stroneslaney.
“Despite the land flooding so regularly it is known as ‘Loch Occasional’ it is being sold off in small portions and it is clear that the new owners have not been fully informed of the special environmental nature of the area around the River Balvaig, which is a Special Area of Conservation.
“Some of these new owners have started doing work without the necessary permissions and this is changing its nature and preventing the community and visitors from enjoying the recreational benefits they have enjoyed for years.”
Trossachs and Teith ward coucillor Martin Earl said: “This swift action by the planning authority is very welcome. All the unauthorized works must stop before any more damage to this important location is done.
“It is also good to see the coordinated approach being taken by the various organizations with relevant areas of responsibility and the involvement of the community council.
“It is appalling that the owner and agent appear to have marketed these plots without clear information regarding their special nature and the constraints in place.”
John Morris, general manager for Future Property Auctions, which is selling the plots, said however: “We are not marketing these plots as development sites. They are marketed for those looking to own a piece of land who enjoy fishing and the outdoors life. It’s a perfect location for those who love the outdoors. There are many scenic walking routes, such as the Rob Roy walking trail, Kirkton Pass, and Balquhidder Glen.
“We were contacted by the local council when we commenced marketing and they stated we should have the following put in – ‘Should any perspective buyer be looking to erect a structure or chalet, all inquiries must be made to the local council with regards to its suitability’. With any sort of planning all the necessary consents must be sought after and met. Should a buyer wish to apply for planning they are welcome to and the council will review each case on its own merit.”