JOHN Urquhart ("Take the high road with A82 upgrade", Agenda, The Herald, December 13) is right to highlight that the upgrade of the A82 between Tarbet and Inverarnan is a once in a lifetime opportunity to improve the experience for millions of travellers and is in danger of being squandered if there are no amendments to the current £150 million scheme that was the subject of a recent informal consultation exercise.

In our role as the independent conservation charity covering the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park we have taken a close interest in the plans and in our consultation response we have called for a much bolder and inspiring solution for the planned upgrade which is more in keeping with the national park setting and less environmentally damaging in such a sensitive scenic area.

The current proposals include a series of large and highly visible rock cuts, lengthy sections of viaduct structures built out over the loch and removal of extensive areas of protected ancient oak woodlands to develop an upgraded route that is very close to the existing A82 but wider with fewer bends.

The design proposals follow the more "minimalist approach" adopted for sections of the current A9 reconstruction between Perth and Inverness, with many opportunities to capitalise on the unique settings of both of Scotland’s national parks not being fully realised compared to some scenic through routes developed elsewhere in European and North American national parks where more is made of the special natural qualities with imaginative wildlife crossings, scenic lookouts and outdoor recreational infrastructure.

A more ambitious scheme that truly embraces the unique setting of the route in this part of the national park is required, one more aligned with the vision set out in the National Park Plan that recognises the importance of protecting the internationally renowned landscape of Loch Lomond for people to enjoy and appreciate the outstanding natural and cultural heritage.

We consider the impact and benefits of the current preferred scheme could be greatly improved with the introduction of some more radical landscaping solutions such as green canopies where higher rock cuts are planned, the greening of areas under viaducts, the greater separation of the planned cycleway from road verges with diversions and tiered structures and the construction of a roundabout and safer crossings in the Tarbet area, where villagers suffer from high traffic volumes using both the A82 and A83.

We also contend that circumstances have changed significantly in recent years due to the climate emergency and the surge in popularity of Loch Lomond as a recreational resource as a direct result of Covid-19 and, consequently, a better solution is required. We believe there should be a brief pause to re-examine the optimal solutions which will leave a legacy for the benefit of current and future generations that is truly worthy of the unique setting of Loch Lomond and its place in the worldwide family of national parks.

James Fraser, Chair, Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs, Balloch.


I HAVE been following with some interest the contributions to the debate on the subject of dog ownership (Letters, December 14, 15 & 17). It is well known to my kith and kin that I am not much of a dog lover. Let it be said, I find difficulty from time to time to tolerate members of the human race as well. However, I am not against the idea of other people having dogs, within reason. But there are many who acquire a dog and appear to expect others to admire and make much of their lifestyle addition. I find it quite easy to resist that temptation.

I accept that most dog owners act in a responsible fashion, most of the time. However, one would hesitate to walk on certain footpaths in Lenzie during the hours of darkness because a number of locals fail to tidy up after their pets. Shame on them. That is an issue which is as old as time. We also have "dogs welcome" pubs and hotels. Such premises are not ideal places of retreat for non-dog lovers. Moreover, living next door to a barking dog is not an enhancing life experience for the neighbours.

There are, of course, different reasons for people to have dogs. It is interesting that it is fashionable today to own expensive mongrels. I believe that a strong reason in many cases is the unquestioning unconditional love. The dog usually is less demanding than the average human being, who can talk back, argue and looks for a bit more to life than three meals a day, a number of wanders through the locale every day for deposit purposes, occasional visits to the vet, and repeated ball retrieval.

By all means have your dogs, but do not expect everyone else to think that they are wonderful.

Ian W Thomson, Lenzie.


TWIGS and branches, even whole trees have fallen down in my favourite wood; possibly not very safe to walk there after the recent storms but the dear old things still need to be cherished with a little light conversation.

Some of the paths are now blocked by great oak and horse chestnut trunks which will hopefully be removed when the winter is over, giving a great deal of wood for fires once it has been dried out and cut to size. I rejoiced to see that my dear old friend the ancient beech had survived, so our conversations can continue, giving joy through the coming, maybe darker, days.

Another favourite is an open-hand-sized stone embedded in a path. "He", (definitely a "he") has pink stripes across. I keep him clear of fallen leaves. So long as "Stripey" is visible all is well. I hope that other readers have things and places which give them joy. We each need somewhere to escape to and maybe to daydream a little.

Thelma Edwards, Kelso.