Derek Mackay, Jackie Baillie and Jonathan McColl.
SNP Minister washes hands of disputed land sale at Drumkinnon Bay
Protest after protest has taken place about the land sale and planning application for Drumkinnon Bay. Report and pictures by Bill Heaney
Drumkinnon Bay land sale protesters were devastated last night after Scotland’s “chancellor” said he was unconcerned about the sale by Scottish Enterprise of public land on Loch Lomondside.
Following concerns raised by local people, the Save Loch Lomond Campaign and others, MSP Jackie Baillie questioned Derek MacKay, Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Economy and Fair Work, about the sale of the site at Drumkinnon Bay.
Mr MacKay said he saw no problem with the land sale, which means he is at directly odds on this issue with West Dunbartonshire Council SNP leader Jonathan McColl, who told a packed public meeting in Balloch two weeks ago that he was “coming round” to supporting it.
However, there was widespread speculation and concern in the community last night that Councillor McColl might be about to do one of his now frequent U-turns.
The site, which is the subject of a hotly contested planning application to develop the area for leisure purposes, has been the scene of public protest after protest and the subject of a petition which has been signed by almost 40,000 people opposed to Flamingo Land’s plans.
In response to the parliamentary questions from Jackie Baillie, the SNP Cabinet Secretary endorsed the decision taken by Scottish Enterprise to sell the land at Balloch to Iconic Leisure Ltd. for construction of the Flamingoland development.
The Dumbarton, Helensburgh and Lomond MSP asked questions about the Scottish Government’s position on the sale of the land; whether they would consider a community buy-out of the land and what financial and in-kind support the Scottish Government had offered the development.
But Derek MacKay effectively washed his hands of having anything to do with the Drumkinnon Bay land sale.
He said: ““As laid out in their Business Plan, Scottish Enterprise works in partnership with other bodies to promote the full extent of Scotland’s assets. The disposal of Scottish Enterprise assets is an operational matter for Scottish Enterprise.”
The Scottish Government also advised Jackie Baillie that they had only called in on average five planning applications per year since 2013.
Jackie Baillie said: “I know that campaigners will be disappointed by the Scottish Government’s attitude to the development at West Riverside in Balloch.
“Many people had raised questions about whether it was appropriate for Scottish Enterprise to sell public land, in such a sensitive location, to a developer without community consultation. People are concerned about the impact that the proposed development will have on the environment and amenity of Balloch.
“I hope that the National Park will ensure that all of the necessary information to assess the application, including traffic, environmental and economic impact assessments are collected before it is considered by the board.”
The three protest groups who have agreed to merge in opposition to both the land sale and the planning application were last night preparing a statement on the matter – “you can take it from me,” one said, “that we are absolutely furious that the SNP Government is allowing this to happen.”