Flamingo Land, best known for a Yorkshire Theme Park, have applied for planning permission for a development on the shores of Loch Lomond. The developer's own Environmental Impact Assessments states that there will be damage to ancient woodland, pollution of standing and running water, red squirrel and otter fatalities and more, all for for the construction of woodland lodges, treetop walkways, a hotel, restaurant, brewery, a monorail and much more, all to be built on what is currently public land but which will be sold off to the developer. This is about protecting our world-famous environment but it’s also about the fundamental question of who owns Scotland and who our beautiful country is for.
A large chunk of Loch Lomond is to be handed over to a private owner for the sake of a high-end tourist resort. The damage this will do far outweighs any positives.
National Park regulations need “overriding public interest” to allow for damage to ancient woodland or to red squirrel & otter habitats - both of which the proposals admit will happen. Loch Lomond is a stunning environment – without the ancient woodland, the wildlife and the unspoilt views, that would no longer be the case.
In February, Ross met with Flamingo Land to discuss how their proposals might meet a series of tests, such as how local businesses would be supported, how the environment would be protected and how they plan to deal with traffic congestion. Thought had been given to addressing some concerns, for example they committed to seeking living wage accreditation and had some ideas for involvement of local businesses, and the vision was of something different to Flamingo Land’s Yorkshire theme park. But ultimately, the proposal is still to sell off public land for profit and at the expense of ancient woodland, local wildlife and those who currently enjoy our National Park.
On access, Flamingo Land say that the woodland will be accessible for people to walk and relax as it currently is. This may be technically true, but how much less welcoming will it be for local people to walk past the doors of holiday lodges, past corporate signage and beneath treetop walkways? Flamingo Land would unavoidably privatise public space at one of our nation’s greatest landmarks.
Most of this land is under the stewardship of Scottish Enterprise, a government agency. It could belong to the community and there’s a lot of local interest in taking the site into community ownership. There are a range of visions for Balloch and these voices need to be heard. The fact that Scottish Enterprise are choosing to sell it off for a quick buck is something we must stand against.