Plans to build a huge holiday park on the shores of a Scottish beauty spot could be felled due to concerns over the destruction of ancient woodlands.
Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park Authority have pointed out a series of “holes and contradictions” in proposals put forward by Flamingo Land contractors Stantec’s bid to build the resort in the face of 33,000 objections.
Among the list of 16 issues raised by the park authority, who have to approve any development, officials say that there is 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.
Planning law expert, Ian Cowan, who wrote the objection, warned the management body of serious flaws in the application process and stated that a judicial review would be considered if not rectified.
It follows Green MSP Ross Greer’s submission that submitted documents and consultation previously failed to meet legal standards and could leave the national park’s decision subject to legal challenge.
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 been met with widespread disdain from locals and heritage and environment bodies including 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The theme park operator’s previous application was withdrawn in 2019 after a record 60,000 objections were lodged and park officials recommended to their board that it be rejected.
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: “For developers to fail to clearly provide one important piece of information would be careless, but the fact that the national park has made 16 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 added: “Even in the extremely unlikely event that Flamingo Land is able to provide satisfactory answers to the questions, the development would still be a disaster.
“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.”
Jim Paterson, development director for Lomond Banks said: “This is yet another attempt by Ross Greer to interfere in a legitimate planning process by using inflammatory language and presenting misinformation as fact.
“Of course, it is not for Ross Greer to decide on the merits of this planning application, this decision continues to sit with the planning authority and the statutory consultees.
“Our commitment to shaping our plans around community and stakeholder feedback has been paramount throughout this application journey, so this feedback from the National Park is hugely valuable in aiding us to edit our plans further to fit the vision of the community, businesses, and the planning authority alike.
“We are steadfast in our plans for Lomond Banks and we truly believe we can deliver something that Balloch and the wider area can greatly benefit from. We will now consider the further questions and requests, and get to work on how best to respond to these in the coming weeks. We look forward to engaging in this process further and, working with our experts and partners to, delivering on what has been asked of us.
“Likewise, the National Park has also asked us to make assurances around the location of the John Muir Way, which we will be happy to confirm. Providing access to such routes of national significance continues to be of vital importance to us all and we have maintained a strong position around this from the outset.”