‘The most unpopular planning application in Scottish history’: Councillors vote unanimously to oppose Loch Lomond land resort

Louise Wylie

Campaigners celebrated the cross-party opposition to the proposed development

  • Pressure group Save Loch Lomond said: “This has restored our faith in local democracy”
  • Over 56,000 people have signed an objection petition set up by Green MSP Ross Greer
  • Plans for “Lomond Banks” include craft brewery and boathouse
  • Concerns were raised over preservation of the biodiversity in the area

West Dunbartonshire Council last night voted unanimously to oppose proposals for a resort in Balloch which campaigners have called “the most unpopular planning application in Scottish history”.

The £30 million proposed complex called Lomond Banks would include a range of family accommodations, a craft brewery, boathouse, and leisure centre. Plans for the holiday resort were launched jointly by Yorkshire-based Flamingo Land and Scottish Enterprise, the Scottish Government’s economic development branch.

However, objections were raised over the impact on ancient woodland in the area, traffic congestion, and competition with local businesses.

Jonathan McColl, leader of the West Dunbartonshire Council, has said: “This is a planning application on a site of both great local and national importance and that is reflected in the more than 55,000 objections that have been received. I hope Ministers will call in this major application, but whether it’s decided upon in Edinburgh by the Scottish Government or in Balloch by the National Park Board, it’s vital that the very serious concerns raised by the Council are taken seriously and this development is halted. We can and we must do better for the people of Balloch and the visitors who come here.”

READ MORE: Nick Kempe: The Loch Lomond land sell-off and the problem of public land use in Scotland

A number of environmental groups and political figures were united in opposing the proposal, which will go to the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Authority for a  decision. The council will be consulted as part of this application process.

Campaign group Save Loch Lomond welcomed the vote, saying: “Although West Dunbartonshire Council are only a major consultee in this process and the role of planning authority lies with Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Authority (LLTNPA), this has restored our faith in local democracy and we hope that Save Loch Lomond with the backing of West Dunbartonshire Council can go on to convince the LLTNPA to also oppose this planning application.”

George Anderson, PR & Communications Officer at Woodland Trust, said: “There are two areas of woodland within the site which would be threatened by the development.  Drumkinnon Wood and an unnamed woodland are both on the Scottish Ancient Woodland Inventory.

“We believe that ancient woodland is amongst the most precious and biodiverse habitats in the UK and is a finite resource which should be protected. Woodland Trust opposes this development for that reason.”

READ MORE: Ross Greer MSP slams controversial Loch Lomond resort over diminishing jobs claims

The application has faced cross-party opposition, with Green MSP Ross Greer collecting over 56,000 objections to the development online.

Greer stated: “This is a huge moment for our campaign. I’m delighted that West Dunbartonshire Council has, despite the apparent recommendations of officials, listened to the overwhelming opinion of local residents and others across Scotland who value our national park and want to see these plans rejected.

“Flamingoland is the most unpopular planning application in Scottish history. It would see public land in our national park sold off to a private developer, whose profits will disappear out of the community and whose own environmental impact assessment conceded major damage, including injury and death to red squirrels and otters, pollution of running and standing water and damage to ancient woodland.

“With opposition growing to such unprecedented levels and now including the local council, as well as groups like the Ramblers and Woodland Trust, it’s clear that the National Park should reject the plans and protect this public land.”

Labour MSP Jackie Baillie is lodging a letter of objection to the planning authority, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, outlining her concerns about the proposed development.

She said: “In my objection to the National Park I have outlined a number of concerns which range from the land value, to transport infrastructure, and from jobs to the position of the River Leven boat clubs. None of my concerns have been answered by either Scottish Enterprise or Flamingoland, despite almost two years of dialogue and correspondence.”

Scottish Enterprise have not responded to a request for comment by time of publication.

Image courtesy of Bob the Lomond

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