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Wednesday, 4 December, 2002, 20:30 GMT
Actor's fears for hospice plan
Ewan McGregor, talking to BBC Scotland
Ewan McGregor tells BBC Scotland of his concerns
Film star Ewan McGregor has described as "very damaging" the prospect of planning permission being refused for Scotland's second children's hospice.

McGregor, who has been involved with the hospice charity Children's Hospice Association Scotland (Chas) for more than six years, said the move could delay the whole project by two years.

Planning permission for the hospice at Balloch is set to be rejected because the site falls within the newly-created Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park.

The Star Wars actor said a visit to Scotland's first hospice, Rachel House in Perthshire, would convince planners that the project had to go ahead.

Robyn Watterson
Robyn Watterson, 6, needs hospice care
"There is nothing I can see that should stop it being built anywhere, national park or not," he told BBC Scotland.

The hospice was backed by West Dunbartonshire Council prior to the responsibility for planning being taken over by the new park authority, which says it does not comply with new rules on land use.

The park's acting planning director, Richard Hickman, said the proposal would be a "significant departure from the development plan".

'Best in world'

He has recommended that the application is refused at next Tuesday's meeting of the authority's planning committee.

Perthshire-born actor McGregor has campaigned for the charity since the mid-nineties.

He said the effort of staff at Rachel House in Kinross, near Perth was the "best work done in the world".

Rachel House, the first hospice in Scotland
Rachel House, the first hospice in Scotland
"It is just very damaging for us. If we were to lose the planning permission at this stage, the whole project would possibly be knocked back for two years," he said.

"The children that are going to be using the hospice do not have that time."

McGregor, whose mother was a deputy headmistress at a special needs school, said the present hospice only had eight beds.

'Come and see'

In the whole of Scotland, 600 families could use terminal care if it was on offer, he said.

"There is a demand for another hospice. Eight beds in the whole of Scotland is not enough for children who have a life-shortening disease," McGregor said.

"It just strikes me as one of the very important things in life.

"If the people who are objecting were to come up and spend the day at Rachel House I'm sure they would change their minds."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Alan Mackay reports
"The national park recognises it's on difficult ground"

Talking PointTALKING POINT
Have your say on the prospect of plans for a children's hospice being rejected because the site is in a  new national park.Hospice plan
Should it be built in a national park?
See also:

04 Dec 02 | Scotland
07 Feb 02 | Entertainment
09 Apr 99 | Health
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