Tourism and our Hebridean island home: why we’re backing the ‘Save Luskentyre’ campaign
Here at the Borve Lodge Estate we love welcoming visitors to our beautiful Hebridean island, but we are also acutely aware of the responsibilities we have towards our local community and, of course, the pristine natural environments that make the Isle of Harris such a special place.
After 2020’s Covid-19 crisis it’s been a delight to see guests return to our five self-catering holiday cottages this summer – they allow us to continue the upkeep of the properties and Borve Lodge Estate itself, and create work all-year-round for our team of estate staff and housekeepers. But balancing the island’s need for the income and jobs generated by the tourism industry with the effects of it on the local community is never easy. And while we know that new development and change is a certainty, we hope this is always considered, appropriate and proportional.
This week the owners of Borve Lodge Estate have added their voices to thousands of others campaigning against plans for the installation of eight glamping pods on the shoreline overlooking the famous Luskentyre beach. A planning application has been made for the pods, each able to house four people, to be used as holiday accommodation for six months every year. But objectors claim the development would cause ‘irreparable ecological damage’ – the site in question is machair-covered – and bring little benefit to the community, and within days of being launched a petition started by the Save Luskentyre group had gathered 3,000 signatures.
Campaigners say their concern is that short-sighted steps will be taken that will forever change Luskentyre and risk the sustainability of its ‘wild sweeps of pristine sand, looming dunes, before the sparkling waters of the Sound of Taransay’.
Borve Lodge Estate owner Cathra Kelliher explained why she wanted to add her support to the campaign, commenting: “This is a stunningly beautiful but fragile ecological setting within a small rural community, both of which must be protected from non-resident developers who bring little economic benefit to Harris. If this goes through it will set a precedent for the ruin of both the landscape and the local communities across West Harris.”
The planning application goes to the vote on 28th September – if you’d like to understand more about the objections to it, log on to Facebook Page and https://www.change.org/p/comhairle-nan-eilean-siar-protect-save-luskentyre
*UPDATE: Amid a wave of protest – and after the petition against it gained the backing of more than 10,000 people – the glamping pod plan was scrapped and the application officially withdrawn from the planning department at Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.