The Holy Loch Marina

From the other side





The Story (Part 2)

We lived happily in our cottage for the next 3 years, gradually making improvements to the cottage. We installed double glazing and that dulled the noise from the road outside considerably and we had many good times. We enjoyed the cottage and in summer it was great to sit out the back and just unwind. In November 1998 we had a son things couldn't be better.

Then in April 1999, then owner of the site known as Hoopers Yard and former naval supply depot, which is next door to us, Douglas Campbell started dredging works without planning permission clearing the way to build a marina, he also confirmed around this time that he had sold the site to Largs based entrepreneur Matthew Downs (I'll put the correct name here as it was reported in the local rag as Martin Downs), who was also at that time making plans to purchase another yard. Robertsons yard, further up the loch.

Later that year there was a meeting organised at the local community center where we were introduced to the new owner of Hoopers yard and his plans to link the 2 yards with a large marina with floating pontoons and an area of reclaimed land.

Meet Matthew Downs on the left, the developer, he explained about a marina based on floating pontoons and about infilling the shore to provide walkways. A lot of us heard alarm bells straight away concerning the infill and mentioned our rights to him and he answered us saying that the marina could be developed with or without the infill,but he preffered that option, we also asked him if an infill was to be made then would there be any buildings put on it and he answered 'no'.
Another concern was the fact that this site had previously been host to an american naval base and a lot of locals had their stories of what they had seen falling off the pier, there had already been articles in the New Scientist magazine(unfortunately you have to subscribe now to read the full article after they re-vamped the site but I have the copy before this happend)  and Scottish CND in 1997 about toxins in the loch and at that time there was talk of a major cleanup operation to remove a sizeable amount of debris from the seabed a legacy of the naval base. It was reported in that article that 130,000 cubic metres of debris littered a 1/4 of the loch's floor, Environmental Resources Management (ERM) issued 2 reports to the MoD documenting levels of nickel,chromium,zinc and copper 3 times higher than other british estuaries. One sample 228mg per Kg of carcinogens known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons 6 times the limit considered safe in the Netherlands. Concentrations of a chemical phthalate, which mimics oestrogen was found to be 49 times the dutch safe level. The ERM report disclosed a previous survey by the MoD in 1995 which found up to 864 micrograms of PCB's per Kg reportedly the highest level anywhere in the world. So you could understand our concerns as to dredging the loch.

We could tell from that first meeting that he had not got the response he had hoped for and he looked quite peeved that we had raised concerns over his proposed development.

We left that meeting with mixed feelings that this marina would indeed be a good thing for the village, as it had declined after the americans had left and any development of this nature could only be a good thing, the only  reservations we had were about the infill and the potential that Matt Downs will eventually build on this reclaimed land. So we set up an action group (SOS Save Our Shore) to voice opinion on the uneeded infilling operation.

By October 1999 the marina opened for business berthing for 56 and Matt Downs still claiming that no buildings would appear on the reclaimed land, instead he was talking about rollerblading,cycling,tennis and basketball activities on the reclaimed land. All of which sounded great to a community that had no facilities 

In April 2000 he applied and won the right to extend the marina. Berthing would increase to 102 boats and dredging of 1,000 cubic metres of the loch. We were assured that any dangerous substances would be carefully monitored but were also told that if trigger levels were found then it would be OK because he planned to cover the materials with geotextile and topped off with gravel and topsoil.

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