Largs residents have launched a campaign to “Save Pencil Bay”.

The moves comes amid fears that controversial new proposals could ruin the well-known beauty spot – but local MSP Kenny Gibson believes they will prove a huge benefit to the town. Locals against the Scottish Sailing Institute plans say the view at Pencil Bay is the town’s most iconic and must be left untouched.

Campaign posters have appeared around Largs claiming that the proposals could ruin enjoyment of the beach for walkers, families and day trippers while also preventing public access to the shoreline and endangering wildlife.

They have also urged other residents to “act now to save this famous beauty spot” by lodging their objections.

In the southeast corner of Pencil Bay, the Sailing Institute are proposing to infill an area leading from the current shore path seawards, and provide a perforated concrete block ramp, which they say will blend with the shoreline.

Institute officials have stated that the plans to boost sailing facilities – which include a five-a-side football pitch – could bring some £1.2 to £1.4 million per year into the town and attract top competitions.

However, local campaigner Tim Cowen said: “North Ayrshire Council have failed to consult with the public about plans which will devastate a local beauty spot.

“Over recent weeks we have spoken to many local people who knew nothing about the plans and were horrified as to what has been proposed.

“At a time when North Ayrshire Council are cutting back services such as wardens for the elderly, we were shocked to read reports that North Ayrshire Council have already committed £230,000 towards this scheme – even though full planning permission has not been granted.”

Margaret Kelly added: “Decisions on developments such as this should not be made solely on the grounds of short term monetary gain.

“The value of this historically important site to residents of Largs, the very many visitors who come to Largs to enjoy its natural beauty and the wealth of birds and wildlife who frequent it, cannot be costed in monetary terms.”

The campaigners are urging people to register their objections with the council as well as lobby their local MP and councillors.

However, Cunninghame North MSP Kenny Gibson has come out in support of the plans and believes they will not detract from the views of the Pencil Beach seafront.

Mr Gibson says that the extension has been sympathetically done and will be positive for the local area.

The SNP MSP told the ‘News’ that it could provide many economic spin-offs and help Largs Yacht Haven become a bigger and better all-round facility.

He said: “I have been approached by some constituents concerning the matter. I think it will be a major benefit, particularly for the 2012 Olympics and it will help ensure more events will come to Largs.

“It will increase investment through visitors and tourism to the town of Largs. There have been one or two concerns about the slipway but once the work has been completed, the people of Largs will appreciate the facility and what it brings to the town.

“Additional launch facilities have been sorely needed here for a number of years.”

Mr Gibson added that the overall plan looked promising for the area and pointed out that the five-a-side football pitch in nearby land would also be beneficial.

By David Walker

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