URGENT concerns have been raised about people camping next to Millport’s helicopter landing pad – sparking fears of a serious accident.

Recent reports have been made of visitors to the island setting up camp at West Bay close to the helipad, which is not fenced off from the public.

Signs are up to warn people not to stop there, but councillor Todd Ferguson, who lives on the island, says the request is being ignored - putting lives at risk.

He said: “People have been camping right next to the area, despite a clear message saying that they shouldn’t.

“We’ve even had reports of a tent camped in the back corner when a helicopter was coming in, which is extremely dangerous.

“Concerns have been raised that something might get picked up in the downdraft, and potentially damage the helicopter or injure someone on board.

“The helicopter comes in fairly regularly and my concern is that something could wrap around the blades like a tent and a dreadful accident could happen.”

Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance lands regularly at the spot to help with emergencies on the island.

Cllr Ferguson says clearer signage may be needed to hammer home the message that camping anywhere in the area is dangerous.

He explained: “There are lots of signs around and one right at the helipad, but people might think it’s only the actual pad itself they can’t pitch up on.

“However, they shouldn’t be camped anywhere near the site because the downwash from helicopters is very strong and far reaching.

“I have asked the council to put up bigger signs that make it clear they shouldn’t be camping in that general area, not just on the helipad itself.

“It’s difficult to stop people camping because of the right to roam laws, but the last thing we want is someone stumbling around a helipad drunk or lying asleep when a chopper is coming in.”

Cumbrae community councillor Keith Hammond also fears people camping on the site could stop the helicopter from landing in an emergency.

He added: “It’s a real problem. If we have an emergency on the island and the helicopter cannot come in because of campers on the site, it would be a serious issue."

Cumbrae Community Council chair Alex Harvie says police officers on the island are aware of the issue and plan to monitor the helipad regularly.