North Coast 500, home or holiday destination?
Photo title; A Waste of Flowers.
You can’t live on the ‘North Coast 500’ without being aware of the controversy lately regarding this fragile place. In terms of beauty, economy and environment it can be easily broken. I thought hard about commenting as according to everything I read I should reflect the style in my books. After all Blàs is light hearted, fun and full of cultural references. But Blàs also struggles with depopulation and high house prices compared to wages. Moreover Blàs sits on the North Coast 500 as easily as blossom sits on a tree and is just as delicate. So what would have happened to the fictional village of Blàs these last few weeks? Would Stroma still be able to travel the single track roads that are a unique part of our lives up here? Well with great difficulty it would appear, as cars of various sizes, many too big refuse to ‘take heed’ and ignore signs saying unsuitable for large vehicles. Others park up in places designed to help the flow of traffic, not for stopping to have a cup of tea in. Certainly she would have to add on considerable time to her previously empty roads. She is not employed in the tourist trade so could possible struggle with the argument that it benefits her way of life. Would the village itself have been overrun by cars and camper vans? Probably, given the sheer amount on the roads. Would Auntie Lottie’s view consist of the side of abandoned tents instead of clear blue seas and open waters? Absolutely. Would Old Tam have had to take his ancient companion Shep to an emergency vet to have his wounds cleaned and stitched after stepping on abandoned cans and broken class? More than likely. Would Maureen manage to negotiate her wheelchair around all the human filth left behind? Only with great difficulty. And what of the crofting land Mary has rented out? The sheep and cattle now expected to share their feeding grounds and home with fuel guzzling, petrol fumed vehicles. Would Ellen still be able to breath that special clean air? The very air that visitors crave in the first place destroyed by the sheer volume of traffic exploding around the area. More over, would depopulation of another kind start all over again as residents broken hearted at their once stunning homes, flee the community, over run by other’s rubbish and thoughtlessness? Would Blàs fight back? You bet it would. If nothing else it would use humour as a weapon. Its inhabitants left weeping at the destruction of the selfish few would band together and find a way to stabilise their vulnerable environment and way of life. They would need to find a way of keeping jobs, not the low paid, seasonal sort that only benefit a few but good value jobs that helped the local economy and employed people all year round. Sustainable jobs which in turn grew and benefitted the community as a whole. A way would be found to protect the environment and the wildlife into the future. Like Blàs, we on the North Coast 500 are at a cross roads where the very things that make this place so appealing to life and visitors alike are in real danger of being destroyed for ever. The essence of this endearing place is being blown away while others shift and point the finger elsewhere. They refuse to take on the responsibility of what they have created without consultation with the people who live and work here. They and others duck and decline their obligations and the action now needed. What will happen to this fragile place when you have totally destroyed it with your inability to act? I fear it will be left to communities like Blàs that will bare this burden and force the ones that hold the power to listen and do something, now! Out of the rubble of destruction, hopefully like the photograph above, flowers and fauna will grow again and life will rebalance itself before it is too late.