Saturday, October 10, 2009


Alison Spence, Tiree's Access and Conservation Officer, very patiently explained it to me again.

"It's a voluntary parking permit. We are asking everyone who accesses the beaches to make a minimum voluntary contribution of £10 per year to help us maintain and improve the current parking and access points."

At first it struck me as a bit strange to be paying for something which I can have for free. Everyday I go to one or other of the splendid beaches on Tiree with my dog, Hector. From time immemorial it has been the right of anyone to access the white sands of this island.  So what's the problem?

"Tiree's popularity is increasing yearly," Alison told me.  "The demand for parking and access to the beaches is beginning to take its toll on the fragile habitat."

Tiree Rural Development are hoping to develop and implement a long term, sustainable solution to the lack of parking areas, access and facilities on the island.

To help achieve this they are asking everyone accessing the beaches to make a minimum voluntary contribution of £10 per year to further improve parking and access points, develop sustainable and appropriate access island-wide and to improve facilities, interpretation and signage.

I reflected on my own activity at the beach with Hector. Sure, some of the beaches can be accessed directly from the road. Most of the beaches we visit, however, are a bit off the beaten track, involving me driving my 4 X 4 on to the machair and through the dunes. 

It wasn't long before Alison had me parting with the two tatty fivers I had been holding on to for long and weary.

And what did I get in return? A windscreen sticker which says I am part of the scheme. That and the knowledge that I'm doing something positive to heal and maintain the health of the island's fragile ecology.  I would recommend anyone on Tiree - locals and visitors alike - to do likewise. 

No comments: