There has to be planning control in Scotland, particularly to protect its remote areas and areas of outstanding natural beauty. Scotland is a stunning country, and we need to protect that for its own sake and for the protection of our vital tourism industry. But Scotland is also a country that people live in, and enjoying its natural resources can take many forms.
Islands are particularly sensitive, a more precarious balance between unspoilt terrain and valuable use, and the greater fragility of economies, lifestyles and populations mean greater care has to be taken.
It is absolutely right that careful consideration has to be given to any development.
But lets look at what surfing has meant to Tiree and the people on it. It is estimated there are now 40 surfers, most of them youngsters, on Tiree. And look at where it is taking them. Two of the youngsters who have asked for the beach hut on Balevullin beach to be allowed to stay are Finn MacDonald, 15, the Scottish Under 18s surfing champion and Ben Larg, 11, who holds the nation’s under 14s title. Sport is so important for young people’s health.
The hut itself is hardly a major visual blot on the landscape, in fact it looks as if it belongs on the beach. Planners will be worried about precedent, and if they allow this then how can they refuse others? But planning has to also be about common sense and the common good – one decision at a time.
Tiree is just over ten miles at its longest, five miles at its widest, and it has a coastline of 46 miles, much of which is unspoilt. Visitors and locals will not struggle to find a piece with no structures at all.
In any visual cost versus amenity benefit comparison, surely it should be allowed to stay.