By Lucy Ashton
Plans for the Flamingo Land development beside Loch Lomond have been labelled ‘toxic’ by Green MSP Ross Greer, pictured right.
His outspoken comments came after it was revealed that the Scottish Government’s economic development agency will not co-propose the latest attempted development by Flamingo Land.
Controversial plans for development at Balloch – which drew a record 60,000 objections – were lodged in 2018 in the name of ‘Flamingo Land Limited & Scottish Enterprise’.
The plans were withdrawn in September 2019 but in December 2020 it was revealed that Flamingo Land and Scottish Enterprise had agreed an extension to their ‘exclusivity agreement’.
This means that the land, currently owned by the government agency, will be sold to Flamingo Land should planning permission be granted.
No other interested body or group can apply to purchase the land.
Scottish Government Economy Secretary Fiona Hyslop this week confirmed Scottish Enterprise will not be a co-applicant in the planning process when a renewed application is submitted.
The Scottish Government have come to realise that Flamingo Land is a definite vote loser and with the elections coming up in May have decided to distance themselves from it.
Mr Greer said: “Flamingo Land and their plans have become so toxic that even their closest supporters in government don’t want their name attached.
“But we shouldn’t be fooled, Scottish Enterprise are still putting work and public money into supporting this second attempt at getting the plans approved. They had the chance to listen to the public and reconsider options such as a community-buyout of the land, but instead they’ve doubled down on a project which was so spectacularly rejected two years ago.
“The difference this time is that Scottish Enterprise and by extension the Scottish Government clearly want to keep their involvement low-profile.
“It remains to be seen exactly what they’ll propose, but the fact that Flamingo Land’s strongest ally don’t want it lodged in their name shouldn’t fill us with confidence.”
Scottish Enterprise says its new agreement with Lomond Banks, a subsidiary of the tourism giant, will create up to 200 jobs and be sympathetic to the local environment.
A Scottish Enterprise spokesman told The Lochside Press: “Given the particularly high profile of this project at the previous application stage, it was considered appropriate for Scottish Enterprise – as a public agency – to remove the possibility of any perception of a conflict of interest if the new application is ever called in by Scottish Government ministers.
“However, we continue to support this project, which will bring much-needed jobs and investment following the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the local economy and the tourism sector, in particular.”
Top picture Economy Secretary June Hyslop ,with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Deputy FM John Swinney.