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An environmentally-friendly project encouraging visitors to Gigha to ditch their cars and explore the island by foot and bike could be hampered by a lack of parking spaces on the mainland.
The Isle of Gigha Heritage Trust (IGHT)’s Gateway to Gigha project, due to be completed later this year, will improve access for walkers and cyclists through the construction and upgrading of paths spanning almost five miles across the island.
But, before the project has even been launched, visitors to the island are already struggling to find parking spaces in the ferry car park at Tayinloan.
While many resort to parking outwith the marked bays, some recent visitors were forced to leave their car in Tayinloan village and walk more than half a mile to catch the ferry.
While the car park is often busy in the summer season, the problem is exacerbated by up to 10 parking spaces being permanently occupied by caravans, boats, fishing equipment and other storage items.
‘We are encouraging people to leave their cars behind, adopting low carbon travel on the island,’ said Craig Whyte, Gateway to Gigha project manager, ‘but if the car park remains congested or becomes even more so, we fear that would-be walking or cycling visitors would be discouraged from or simply be unable to leave their cars at Tayinloan and visit us.
‘If any of the users of these bays would be willing to discuss how their caravans, boats or other goods might be better accommodated, it could make a significant difference.’
The IGHT, which has been unsuccessful in trying to find out who owns the items, has raised its concerns with West Kintyre Community Council and Argyll and Bute Council.
The trust first spoke to council officials about tidying up the ferry car park in 2019 and even offered some suggestions as potential solutions.
These included forcibly removing the storage items, marking out additional parking bays so the space in the car park is used more efficiently, and seeking additional parking space from the surrounding land but, so far, nothing has been implemented.
An Argyll and Bute Council spokesperson said: ‘The council is proposing to implement a traffic regulation order for the currently unregulated off-street car parks within the Mid Argyll, Kintyre and Islay area.
‘This will allow us to manage the use of these car parks effectively by using reasonable enforcement activities to mitigate against irresponsible parking or unfair use of these facilities.’
The council is urging anyone with concerns to report them through the ‘report it’ section on its website at argyll-bute.gov.uk
As well as improved infrastructure, the Gateway to Gigha project will include interpretation of the island’s rich natural and cultural heritage which it wants people to enjoy in a sustainable way.
All islanders and visitors are invited to attend a heritage interpretation consultation drop-in event at the island’s village hall this weekend, from 10am to 4pm on Saturday and from 10am to 3pm on Sunday.