A public hearing will take place to decide the fate of two beach huts built without planning permission on Tiree.
The island is popular with surfers and is known as the “Hawaii of the North” because of its sunshine and perfect waves.
But local firm Blackhouse Watersports has been criticised by Argyll and Bute Council after building huts on Balevullin and Gott beaches without planning permission.
Applications for retrospective consents went before the council’s planning committee yesterday, with officers recommending that they be refused.
Senior planner Richard Kerr advised councillors that a hearing should take place, due to the controversy the applications have generated.
A petition with 135 names has been submitted in support of Balevullin hut, while the council has received 39 objections and 100 expressions of support.
There have been eight objections to the Gott hut and 17 expressions of support.
Objectors say the huts are a blight on the otherwise unspoiled beaches, while supporters, including Mike Russell MSP, see them as a boost for the island’s economy.
Speaking about the Balevullin hut, Mr Kerr said: “It has proved a very controversial development with a large number of representations of both support and objection, although it has to be said, considerably more in support, particularly from the surfing community.
“The arguments are very finely balanced as to whether the applicant is able to demonstrate a justifiable locational need to merit an exception being made, or alternatively whether there is a need to protect the wild nature of Tiree’s beaches.”
Councillor Roddy McCuish said: “I fully support the need for a local hearing on this. I think it’s absolutely vital members see this site for themselves in the whole context of what Tiree is like and especially what the location is like.”
Councillor Neil MacIntyre said the huts should simply be knocked down: “I don’t see the need for a site visit. The cost of all of us to go over there is more than the cost of knocking it down. It’s simple, there is no planning permission, they shouldn’t be there. End of story.”
While Councillor Rory Colville was supportive of the huts. He said: “We agreed to put a huge wind turbine at a similar beach on a nearby island.
“It’s a wooden hut, just grant permission.”
Committee chairman David Kinniburgh recommended that they go with the planners recommendation for a local hearing, to which councillors agreed.