Sun 4 Dec, 2022

Threats to ruin one of Scotland’s most treasured natural beauty spots by creating a huge holiday park on the shores of Loch Lomond could be felled by park chiefs - after they demanded developers provide answers on sixteen areas of major concern, including the destruction of ancient woodlands.

Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park Authority, who need to approve any planning application, have fired off a major rebuke to Flamingo Land contractors Stantec, pointing out gaping holes and contradictions in their controversial bid to build the resort in the face of 33,000 objections so far.

Among the list of issues raised by the Park Authority are the lack of a properly detailed Environmental Impact Assessment, clear information on the potential impact on ancient woods and water quality, and any kind of figure on how much more traffic would be added to already congested local roads.

Over half of the demands made by Park bosses appear to be based on concerns raised in the objection lodged by Scottish Green MSP Ross Greer and written by planning law expert Ian Cowan, which warned the Park Authority of serious flaws in the application process and stated that the Green MSP would consider a judicial review if these were not rectified.

For example, Flamingo Land will have to provide an updated, clearer Environmental Impact Assessment, and this will be subject to a further period of consultation.

This follows Mr Greer’s submission pointing out that the submitted documents and consultation previously failed to meet legal standards and could leave the National Park’s decision subject to legal challenge.

The Park Authority’s letter asks for clarity on key aspects of the plan including damage to ancient woodland, parking provision and the impact on traffic congestion. It will require resubmission of a number of key documents.

Flamingo Land re-applied for planning permission for two hotels, 127 holiday lodges, a waterpark, monorail and much more in Balloch earlier this year. The plans have drawn over 33,000 objections so far, including from the National Trust, Woodland Trust and Ramblers Scotland.

The theme park operator’s previous application was withdrawn in 2019 after a record 60,000 objections were lodged and Park officials recommended to their board that it be rejected.

Ross Greer, who described the proposed plan as a ‘scar’ on the area, said the intervention from the Park Authority likely signalled the ‘death knell’ for this second attempt at the controversial application. He said:

“This is a massive rebuke to Flamingo Land and hopefully signals the death knell for their preposterous and damaging plans.

“For developers to fail to clearly provide one important piece of information would be careless, but the fact that the National Park has made sixteen requests shows how much of a shambles we’re dealing with here.

“Flamingo Land has been quick to accuse others of spreading misinformation, yet this letter from the National Park shows how inconsistent and unclear their own plans are.

“This is far more serious than just an illustration of flaws in the plans. It shows how, by failing to submit a compliant Environmental Impact Assessment, the developers are gambling with the future of one of Scotland’s most iconic locations.

He went on: “Flamingo Land have failed to provide precise information on the risk to ancient woodland, nature and water quality. They haven’t even confirmed a clear number of parking places or whether those car parks will result in further loss of woodland. They can’t even say how many car journeys their plans would generate, so we don’t know the climate or traffic impacts of this garish and damaging proposal.

“Even in the extremely unlikely event that Flamingo Land is able to provide satisfactory answers to these questions, the development would still be a disaster. It would be a scar on the shore of Loch Lomond and would come at a great cost to the local community. It would mean massive loss of ancient woodland, which is why I, and many locals, will continue to fight back against it.

“Recent community surveys have shown that residents oppose these plans by a margin of three to one. Flamingo Land’s boss promised years ago that if the community weren’t behind them, they would walk away. Not only are the people of Balloch clearly ready to see the back of them, it now appears that they’re losing the confidence of the Park Authority as well."

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