Have your say on beauty spot buy-out

Tralee beach is visited by thousands every year.

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The future of a Benderloch beauty spot comes under the spotlight at a public meeting tomorrow (Friday October 19).

Villagers are being invited to have their say about a possible community buy-out of Tralee beach.

A steering group has been set up and Linsay Chalmers, a development manager for Community Land Scotland, will be a guest speaker.

The meeting at the Victory Hall in Benderloch starts at 7.30pm.

‘Community Land Scotland is delighted to be providing support to the community of Benderloch as they look at a potential buy-out of the iconic and ecologically important Tralee beach,’ said Ms Chalmers.

‘We have been very impressed by both the drive and skills of the people involved and are looking forward to answering questions from the community about the buy-out process at the meeting.’

A number of meetings have already been held to date to talk around the pros and cons of a public purchase of Tralee but the steering group says it is now ready to have a full public meeting to present the information it has managed to gather.

A public meeting was held in July to get an early indication of how the community felt about a possible buy-out bid.

The Oban Times previously reported the Surrey-based family who have owned the beach since 1945 have contacted the committee and wanted to talk.

One plan was to buy it under a Land Transfer Scotland initiative – as long as the community gives its backing.

If the buy-out goes ahead, it is believed it would be the first community buy-out of a beach involving common grazing.

The beach attracts thousands of visitors every year  and has a colourful past. When Argyll and Bute Council allowed thousands of tons of sand and gravel to be extracted from it in the 1980s as infill for the £1.4 million Oban railway pier, it sparked outrage from campaigning environmentalists who put a stop to it. Trouble erupted again when the then landlowners dug a trench across the access road to the beach to stop people accessing their land.

The current landowners still have mineral rights for the beach and land owned by crofters. If a buy-out was successful, the community would have a say on how the beach was developed and be able to put a block on any sand and gravel removal.

Other ideas if the buy-out goes ahead include putting in roads so people with disabilities are given access, filling in hazardous pits, fitting new gates to stop cattle from wandering and creating a nature reserve.