By Bill Heaney

Dumbarton and Lomond constituency MSP, Jackie Baillie, has asked First Minister Nicola Sturgeon whether she would support a community buyout at West Riverside in Balloch, following the withdrawal of a planning application by Flamingo Land Limited.

The MSP also took the opportunity to ask the First Minister whether the agreement with Scottish Enterprise, who own the site at Balloch, is now set aside.

Flamingo Land Limited withdrew their planning application following thousands of objections to their proposals for development within Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park just a week before the application was due to be considered by the board.

Jackie Baillie said: “I have previously voiced my objection to the planning application which was submitted by Flamingo Land Limited due to concerns about the impact on the surrounding community, including local businesses, and the lack of clarity over jobs.

“I am not against development, but I think we can get better economic benefit than this represents.”

“Members of the local community have been keen to buy the land to enable them to develop it for the benefit of the community.

“I am now hopeful that despite an exclusivity agreement with Scottish Enterprise until 2020, the withdrawal of the planning application will mean that other interested parties can buy the land to develop.”

Allanah Maurer, of Save Loch Lomond, issued the following statement: “While Save Loch Lomond welcomes the decision by Scottish Enterprise and Flamingo Land as joint applicants to withdraw their planning application, we recognise this planned strategic manoeuvre and the perceived advantages.

“This move avoids any chance of a refusal from the National Park Authority, call in by the Scottish Government and of course attempts to nullify the 57,000 objections effectively silencing these voices, enabling the developers to say that the 57,000 objections don’t apply to any future application.

“From the statement released through their lawyers, it is quite clear neither Flamingo Land nor Scottish Enterprise understand the real reasons for the number of objections.

“There is a real opportunity to create something very special with this land, a gem to sit beside the scenic jewel that is Loch Lomond. The Flamingo Land development, even if altered, is not it.  The land is incidentally far from derelict.  It may be vacant, but not derelict.”

“We will be seeking clarification from Scottish Enterprise if they intend to maintain the Exclusivity Agreement with Flamingo Land which prevents any other more appropriate and locally beneficial projects from being explored and discussed seriously with planning authorities.

She added: “We will continue to work together with all other objectors to maintain pressure and expound the arguments as to why the Flamingo Land project is the wrong type of development for this site in Balloch and to show alternatives that bring greater local benefits and are befitting of a National Park.  The campaign continues to Save Loch Lomond.

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