Nicola appeared to be supporting Save Loch Lomond last year – but maybe that was just for the publicity pictures in her constituency garden fete.
By Democrat reporter
THE [Glasgow] Herald is reporting that the Scottish Government’s economic development agency has resurrected its plans for a tourist resort on the banks of Loch Lomond, which were abandoned last year following more than 55,000 public objections.
However, Scottish Enterprise now says it has reached an agreement with Lomond Banks – a subsidiary of tourism firm Flamingo Land Ltd – which involve refreshed plans for a riverside tourist destination.
The agency says it could lead to the creation of hundreds of jobs, as well as millions of pounds in investment on the banks of Loch Lomond.
However, Scottish Enterprise has stressed that there are no plans to introduce roller-coasters or flamingos to Lomond Banks – despite the company running a theme park in Yorkshire.
Rather, they’ve said the intention is to have visitor accommodation and walkways that are sympathetic to the local environment, with public access maintained throughout the site.
The development will also provide learning and training opportunities for staff and will create links to local schools and colleges, Scottish Enterprise has said.
Gordon Gibb, Flamingo Land boss – he even had plans for a zoo.
Scottish Enterprise’s, Dumbarton man, Allan McQuade, formerly of Dunbartonshire Enterprise, said: “The plans for Lomond Banks present a really timely positive news story for the local economy but also for tourism in Scotland, both of which have suffered hugely as a result of the pandemic.
“This development will bring much needed employment and investment to the area, while maintaining the integrity of the local environment.”
He added: “There were never any intentions to create a theme park at Lomond Banks and rumours to that effect were not based in fact, and the developers will continue to ensure that there is full consultation with the local community.
“These factors are central to everything we do, and we look forward to seeing them play a huge part in the future development of Lomond Banks.”
The news comes as the local tourism sector attempts to recover from the impact of restrictions and closures as a result of the Covid pandemic.
VisitScotland’s Regional Leadership Director (West), Jim Clarkson, said: “Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park is a huge draw for visitors to the West of Scotland, so we welcome news of significant jobs and investment planned for the area, after such a challenging year.
“The coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating impact on the tourism industry and has changed the lives of people right across the country.
“Our priority is to use this opportunity to reset tourism in a responsible way. We want to work with communities to ensure that visitors and locals can both have a fantastic experience when tourism starts to rebuild itself.
“Any development in Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park would need to take into account the sensitive nature of the outstanding natural environment of the area, as well as any concerns raised by the local community.
The arrangement follows on from the expiry of the previous Exclusivity Agreement between the two parties, which allowed the developer time to carry out necessary site investigations without Scottish Enterprise entering into negotiations with other parties.
This was signed in 2016 after a two-year campaign by SE to secure a developer who would fulfil the joint ambitions of SE and the Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Parks Authority for a tourist attraction on the site.
The new agreement – a conditional missive – will, when finalised, oblige Scottish Enterprise to selling the land to the company upon the successful completion of the planning process.
The company’s CEO Gordon Gibb said: “Lomond Banks recognises there were misunderstandings around the previous plans and are keen that we take this opportunity to engage and work with the community to deliver a world class tourist attraction which is extremely sensitive to the surrounding area.
“We wish to reassure the community that there has never been a proposal to develop a theme park or indeed a roller coaster.”
Scottish Green MSP Ross Greer, pictured right, had previously presented a petition to the Scottish Government, calling for Scottish Enterprise to end its links with the company.
Mr Greer called Scottish Enterprise’s decision to renew the agreement with Flamingo Land Ltd “shocking.”
He said: “This is an outrage and will cause huge upset to the community in Balloch. A public agency that ignores the wishes of the public is not fit for purpose.
“Flamingo Land’s destructive plans were the most unpopular planning application in Scottish history, with overwhelming local and national opposition. The developer has consistently acted in bad faith and clearly has no interest in what the local community actually wants or needs.
“Scottish Enterprise owns this land and as a public body they are directly accountable to the Scottish Government through the Economy Secretary, Fiona Hyslop.
“Ms Hyslop must step in immediately to prevent this exclusive agreement from being renewed. The community are exhausted by this saga but if forced to, they will continue to defend Loch Lomond’s world-famous natural environment from those only interested in exploiting it for profit.”
Meanwhile, Jackie Baillie, MSP for Dumbarton, has called on Scottish Enterprise to come clean over the discussions that it has been having with Flamingo Land Ltd, and whether it plans to extend the exclusivity agreement.
This follows a response from the Scottish Government to a parliamentary question asked by Jackie Baillie, pictured left. The response stated that: “the existing exclusivity agreement is in place until 31 December 2020. Discussions between Flamingo Land Ltd and Scottish Enterprise are continuing and it is not yet possible to confirm what, if any, agreement may be in place after that time.”
Jackie Baillie has said that this response is incredible and that local people need answers now.
The MSP said: “This response is simply not good enough. Local people deserve answers and it’s time that Scottish Enterprise comes clean about its plans for 2021.
“The Scottish Government is pushing this issue further down the road and is continuing to avoid giving any clear information on Scottish Enterprise’s relationship with Flamingo Land Ltd.
“The local community don’t deserve to be treated with such disregard and I will continue to push for answers until I am happy with the response that I receive.”
- Elsewhere in The Democrat, you will find coverage of applications for at least three other major developments on Loch Lomondside – Ross Priory, Luss village, Ardlui.
The campaigners thought it was all over, but the next round is about to begin.