Electric boat group in shock bid to ban motor vessels on Loch Lomond

Noisy and polluting motor boats and jet skis have caused conflict on Loch Lomond. Picture: Colin Hattersley
Noisy and polluting motor boats and jet skis have caused conflict on Loch Lomond. Picture: Colin Hattersley
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Motor boats should be banned from Scotland’s largest loch to cut water pollution and noise, campaigners have urged.

The Electric Boat Association (Scotland) wants the Scottish Government’s plan to phase out diesel and petrol cars extended to vessels.

It said craft on Loch Lomond should be restricted to using zero-emission power, such as electric and solar, like in many US lakes.

General secretary Rob Kay said: “Loch Lomond is one of the most important, most visited and best-loved in Scotland, yet with a lengthy record of conflict between lovers of peace and quiet, and people who enjoy the thrill of water sports at high speeds.

“Electric boats are very popular with the general public, mainly because they are emission free and virtually silent. They run zero risk of discharging oil or petrol into the pristine water.

“The boats can operate at the 7mph speed limit in sensitive areas, but as the rest of the loch is open to speeds of up to 56mph, they can also be very fast when permitted.

“The existing incentive schemes for electric cars, taxis and buses should be extended to include electric boats, and a date set to ban all internal combustion engines on Loch Lomond.”

Kay outlined the plan to transport minister Humza Yousaf at an electric vehicle conference at Edinburgh Napier University last week, who agreed to consider it. Friends of the Earth Scotland backed the move.

Pollution campaigner Emilia Hanna said: “Climate change demands we move away from transport run on toxic diesel and petrol, which cause climate emissions and harmful air pollution.

“As technology improves, we should be looking to replace diesel engines with electric ones.”

However, a loch jetski group described the proposal as “ludicrous”.

Calum Stevens, president of Loch Lomond Freestyle Jetski Club, said: “This call to ban all diesel and petrol fuel boats from Loch Lomond is frankly absurd.

“While electric propulsion is something certainly interesting and will become more and more prevelent in time, there is absolutely no need to attack all the existing loch users in the meantime.

“To ban all petrol and diesel boats while 99.99 per cent of boats are still petrol or diesel is a ludicrous suggestion.

“Certainly, it looks like Rob Kay is being rather narrow minded and selfish here and only seeks to push his own agenda.

“We must all share public spaces.

“You need only look at the downfall of the Lake Windermere boating industry [where a 11mph speed limit was introduced in 2005] to see how damaging to both recreation and the local economy such a blanket ban would be.”

Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park rejected the call for a ban.

A spokesman said: “While we recognise the benefits of electric boats and welcome their use on the loch, we currently have no plans to ban diesel and petrol powered boats.

“Our aim is to strike a balance between all the environmental, economic and recreational needs surrounding use of the loch.”