Minister’s letter gives fresh hope to Flamingo Land protesters
Jackie Baillie, Jonathan McColl and Andy Miller.
By Bill Heaney
It will be up to the Scottish government to determine whether the planning application for the Flamingo Land development at Balloch will be called in for approval at the highest level.
But that will only happen if the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Authority decide to give the controversial plan the green light.
It has been made clear that it is a legal requirement for the Park Authority to notify Holyrood Ministers if they are minded to accept the application.
Dumbarton and Lomond constituency MSP Jackie Baillie today released a letter from the Government which confirms that because West Dunbartonshire Council has objected to the application, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park are required to notify Ministers if they are minded to accept the application.
The letter from Kevin Stewart MSP, the SNP Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning, states that primary responsibility for dealing with planning applications and local planning matters rests with the National Park.
He adds however that planning legislation requires planning applications to be determined in accordance with the development plan for the area.
Mr Stewart has advised interested parties that after having a look at the latest plans for Flamingo Land, Ministers will consider whether the application should be called in for determination or whether it should remain with the National Park.
Objectors to Flamingo Land have taken this as a clear indication that Nicola Sturgeon and her SNP team recognise that there could be a political price to pay for this in West Dunbartonshire, where the local council administration and the Westminster parliamentary seat are currently in SNP hands.
Over 1,000 people have objected to the plans, with another 50,000 signing a petition by Green MSP Ross Greer, although the local community council and the Friends of Loch Lomond have made comments in support.
Local council leader, Jonathan McColl, certainly recognised the danger when he jumped the dyke to back the protesters when he eventually recognised that public opinion was very much on that side of things.
This was just one of many important policy decisions made by the SNP on which they have done a U-turn.
Labour MSP Jackie Baillie said: “This planning application has been extremely controversial with hundreds of people submitting objections on various different grounds.
“It is welcome news that Scottish Ministers will at least be given sight of the application should the national park be minded to accept.
“It has become apparent in recent weeks that the community representatives of the National Park board nearest the development will have no say at the meeting when the application is considered. This is disappointing.
“I hope that the strength of feeling from the local community will be truly represented at the meeting, and that the Scottish Government will indeed call in the application for determination.”
Alannah Maurer, of the Save Loch Lomond group, welcomed the Minister’s statement.
She said the news was a boost to opponents of the project which Flamingo Land want to develop with the support and assistance of Scottish Enterprise.
Meanwhile, Flamingo Land’s local spokesperson, Andy Miller, alleges “misinformation” is being spread by objectors and that abuse is being directed at supporters of the project.
He is quoted by one media platform as stating: “Hopefully, the local authority will agree the concept on September 24 and then we can progress with a detailed plan.”
Someone should inform him that the local authority has already expressed its objection to the plan and that it will be the National Park Authority who will make the decision on September 24.
As stated above, even then that will not be the end of it since it Park Authority approves it will have to go back to the Government to decide if it should be called in for the final, final decision to be made.