Jackie Baillie is challenging the Scottish Government and Scottish Enterprise over the planning application for Flamingo Land.
By Bill Heaney
The Scottish Government is running scared at the upsurge in support for the campaign to halt Flamingo Land’s planned move to Loch Lomondside.
This was clear at the Scottish Parliament on Thursday when Labour MSP Jackie Baillie raised what she called “her constituents’ concerns about the proposal to build a holiday park at West Riverside in Balloch”.
The planning application, which has been lodged jointly by Flamingo Land and Scottish Enterprise, has already attracted 54,000 objections.
It includes a proposal for a variety of different types of holiday accommodation, including self-catering lodges and residential homes, alongside water-based activities, shops and restaurants.
The ongoing debate over it has been well documented here in The Democrat, including the clash between prominent SNP figures Cllr Jonathan McColl and Iain Robertson.
It is an understatement to say the least that this planning application, which will be considered by Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, has caused a divide in opinion locally.
Jackie Baillie raised the issue of the Scottish Government calling in the application for their determination with Minister for Rural Affairs during a session of General Questions in the parliament chamber.
Will lovely Loch Lomondside be desecrated by a Flamingo holiday theme park? Picture by Bill Heaney
She also asked the Minister whether the sale of land and likely future grant award from Scottish Enterprise to the Lomond Banks development, was a good use of public money. Unfortunately she didn’t receive a response.
However, The Democrat can reveal that Flamingo Land or Lomond Banks as it is now called has been receiving cash support from Scottish Enterprise, the government quango, who would dearly like to see the development go ahead.
Jackie Baillie said: “A number of concerns have been raised about the Lomond Banks development locally. These range from the quality of jobs which the developers say will be created, to the impact on existing business, transport infrastructure and even the local environment.
“I will make my view known [as to where I stand on this issue] in the next few weeks, but in the meantime I wanted to question whether this proposal represents value for money for the public purse.
“Scottish Enterprise purchased the land for £2 million about 20 years ago. They are now telling the public that it is worth just £200,000, which is the price that Flamingoland will pay.
“Indeed, Flamingoland are likely to receive additional public funds in grants from Scottish Enterprise, so we may end up paying them to develop in Balloch.
“Many people remain unconvinced that this is a good use of public money.”
She added: ““It is also the case that this is a substantial and complex application and I believe, given the involvement of Scottish Enterprise, that the application should be called in for determination by the Scottish Government.”
SNP Minister, Mairi Gougeon, said that since this was a live planning case she simply could not comment on it.
She added, however, that it would now be would be a matter for the Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning to consider – “If there are any particular issues that Jackie Baillie would like to raise, I urge her to submit a comment to the planning process to highlight them—indeed, I am sure that she has already done so.”