By Bill Heaney
The Save Loch Lomond campaign has reacted with anger to revelations about Flamingo Land’s latest attempt to secure public land at the gateway to Loch Lomond for a private leisure development.
Flamingo Land in concert with Scottish Enterprise, has not dropped the attempted grab of public riverside land in Balloch for a private leisure, hotel, lodges and water park complex.
A previous planning application by Flamingo Land was withdrawn after the biggest ever public protest garnered 60,000 plus who fiercely opposed the development.
This week a Freedom of Information (FOI) request by the Scottish Green Party revealed the latest agreement between Flamingo Land and government agency Scottish Enterprise makes provision for a 125-year lease for the site, rather than a purchase as previously proposed.
The First Minister and other Scottish Minsters have until now maintained the land is only available for sale, despite this Scottish Enterprise has already offered a lease deal exclusively to Flamingo Land., Save Loch Lomond campaigners have told The Democrat.
They said that a previous exclusivity agreement came to an end in December 2020. It was replaced with this new agreement disregarding the petition signed by 10,000 calling on the Scottish Government and Scottish Enterprise to end the exclusivity arrangement with Flamingo Land.
“It is apparent that Scottish Enterprise is determined to ensure that Flamingo Land secures the land despite this massive display of public opposition,” one angry campaigner added.
The Chair of Save Loch Lomond, Rory MacLeod, said: “Scottish Government ministers have refused to become involved in defending this world famous location from private exploitation. Scottish Enterprise is clearly proceeding with no transparency, accountability or regard for the public interest.
“First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is committed to supporting community buy-outs and sympathetic developments (Community Empowerment Act 2015), yet her government has given free rein to their development quango which clearly favours a theme park development company over potential local ownership plans.
“At a time when the eyes of the world are on COP26 hosted in Glasgow this November, Nicola Sturgeon and her government ministers are displaying hypocritical disregard for humanity’s attempt to fend off global catastrophe by licensing the destruction of one of the natural jewels in Scotland’s crown.”
Mr MacLeod sent out this plea to local people: “Save Loch Lomond calls on all political parties in Scotland to commit immediately and permanently to saving Loch Lomond for the people, and to bring this shameful exercise between Flamingo Land and Scottish Enterprise to an end.”
Scottish Enterprise appear to have forgotten the outcome of meetings such as this one. Top picture is of Parkswatch campaigner Nick Kempe and Save Loch Lomond chairman Rory MacLeod. Picture by Bill Heaney