Petition against beach glamping pods at famous Scottish beach approaches 10,000 backers

A petition against plans to build eight glamping pods at one of Scotland’s most famous beaches has attracted nearly 10,000 backers.

The pods have been proposed on croft land by the dunes at Luskentyre Beach on the Isle of Harris.

Andrew Bartlett, who owns Croft One at Luskentyre, has applied to change the use of part of his land to create the holiday accommodation. He already has permission for three pods at the site.

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The glamping site will fall into the "higher end of the quality spectrum” and attract a “higher quality of clientele”, with a night in a pod, which will sleep up to four people, to cost around £120, according to documents filed to support the application.

Luskentyre Beach on the Isle of Harris. Objections are mounting to plans to build eight glamping pods on a stretch of machair at the beauty spot. PIC: Getty.

West Harris Trust and South Harris Community Council are among those who have officially objected to the plans. Cathra and Adam Kelliher, owners of the neighbouring island of Taransay, have also lodged their protest with the council.

A public petition had attracted the backing of 9,600 people by Monday afternoon.

The Protect and Save Luskentyre petition claimed the “natural beauty” of Luskentyre was now under “real treat”, with the pods set to cause “irreparable ecological damage” while bringing little benefit to local community .

The petition said: “We are approaching this as concerned stewards of a fragile ecology, and require that our voices are heard before short-sighted steps are taken that will forever change Luskentyre for both residents and visitors for years to come.

"We call on the Comhairle Nan Eilean Siar and the government bodies NatureScot and SEPA to rightfully fully protect this rare and fragile environment and reject this planning application.”

Alan Ross, chairman of South Harris Community Council, said there was an issue with “overcrowding” of buildings at Luskentyre.

Mr Ross said: “This croft already has three houses on it and planning consent for three glamping pods. They are asking for permission for a further eight.

"If that goes ahead, there will be 14 buildings on one croft. Could you imagine if all crofts here had 14 houses on them?

"It’s a single track road and at the very bottom is the burial ground for Harris. There have already been occasions where funeral processions find it impossible to get to ceremonies at the end of the track."

Mr Ross said the increase in tourism to Harris post-Covid had been “very difficult”.

He said: "Lots of people don’t go to Luskentyre now because of the crowding."

Mr Ross said turning croft land into holiday accommodation, which in turns increases the value of land, ultimately made it difficult for local people to buy property.

"It creates a real, real problem and a situation where locals just can’t afford a housing plot,” he said.

"You are going to end up having a Luskentyre with no one living there.”

The glamping site sits within the South Lewis, Harris & North Uist National Scenic Area (NSA), and mostly within the Luskentyre Banks & Saltings Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

NatureScot, the government agency which protects the natural environment, said it did not believe the “special qualities of the NSA would be adversely affected” given the scale and nature of the development.

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