Gordon Watson, Chief Executive of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority, said: “The National Park Authority takes its environmental responsibilities extremely seriously undertaking a wide range of work to tackle both the nature and climate emergencies, most recently demonstrated by our commitment to the Edinburgh Declaration and setting our ambitious target for reaching net zero emissions by 2030.
“As a planning authority we also have a statutory responsibility to balance this with ensuring the National Park’s communities and businesses can thrive. Our award-winning Local Development Plan, produced following extensive consultation, has policies and requirements ensuring development befitting a National Park whilst also supporting the local economy where jobs and housing are needed.
The Flamingo Land plan for Drumkinnon Bay at Balloch which was refused.
“All planning applications are assessed against the plan and assessment includes thorough consideration of environmental factors. Environmental Impact Assessments are not required for every application and a rigorous screening process is carried out to determine when this is needed. The screening process for the Hunter Foundation application, undertaken by the Authority, concluded that an assessment was not required. A number of environmental factors were carefully considered as part of the planning assessment and determination.
“The decision to appoint Flamingoland as preferred bidder for the West Riverside site was made by Scottish Enterprise alone. While a former member of the National Park Authority’s tourism team did provide informal tourism advice to Scottish Enterprise before their decision, no member of the planning team or any member of the National Park Board was involved in their selection and there was no conflict of interest.
“The fact that the planning officer’s report on the Flamingoland application recommended refusal for a number of reasons including unacceptable environmental impacts reflects this. The application was withdrawn following the publication of our report and before the National Park Board could make a determination.
“Planning decisions can often be contentious and emotive, particularly in a National Park. However, a planning authority must follow the statutory process and take an objective view in assessing the merits of any proposal including all of the information and comments submitted ensuring all parties are treated fairly. We do not choose which applications are submitted and must apply the same independent decision-making process regardless of who the landowner or applicant is.”
Gordon Watson, Chief Executive of Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park.