By Bill Heaney
Leading investigative journalist Sam Poling of the BBC Scotland Discovery programme and Panorama did a special report on Monday evening (it’s still available on BBC i Player) about fly-tipping by unscrupulous criminals who go about their dirty business virtually unchallenged by Police Scotland and the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency.
But don’t look out for the Scottish Government or local councils following this up with a campaign to stop it any time in the near future.
The hills around Loch Lomondside and the rivers that run into Scotland’s most famous inland stretch of water are vastly polluted with household and building material waste and much worse.
The rivers and hills are polluted with excrement dumped legally and illegally by contractors who are making £ millions from their clandestine – and sometimes not under cover operations – which see large vehicles going into the hills to dump their filthy cargo.
The most recent complaint about this has come from Flamingo Land PR chief Jim Paterson, who is development lead for the Lomond Banks project at Balloch.
He says land, particularly around the old Woodbank Hotel, pictured at the top of the page, has been targeted by fly-tippers who have dumped appliances and mattresses there.
And that hazardous, highly toxic materials were also ditched and required to be professionally removed.
Mr Paterson told one local journalist that a major clean-up has since been carried out with new gates installed at the front in a bid to prevent drivers accessing the site to ditch rubbish.
This week, Flamingo Land revealed it will submit a planning permission in principle application to Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park at the end of April for a £40 million tourist resort.
The West Riverside plans take in Woodbank House, with early proposals including a monorail, an indoor water park, lodges, craft brewery and visitor centre, and an aparthotel.
Mr Paterson said: “Woodbank House has been an iconic part of Balloch’s rich history and landscape for hundreds of years. It was a beautiful, listed building that tells an insightful story of the area’s past. “Over the years it has lain derelict and left to decay and is now in quite a sad state of repair.
“Flamingo Land purchased Woodbank House and its grounds as part of our vision for the area with the idea of breathing new life into the estate and restoring some of its charm and grandeur.
“Whilst we continue through the planning process, however, it is our wish to prevent further deterioration whilst protecting the public from the dangers of the instability of the ruined building.
“We have always maintained our position that the area around Woodbank House must remain open for public access during the planning process – allowing dog walkers, ramblers and visitors to the site continued enjoyment of the natural beauty of the surrounds.
“Much to our dismay however, Woodbank House seems to have been targeted by a series of fly-tippers leaving their unwanted litter strewn around the grounds.”
He added that the problem was not isolated to the grounds of Woodbank House, with other areas across Loch Lomond reporting litter left behind.
“Our job as custodians of the historic building is to protect it from further decay and ensure people stay safe as they explore the area.
“However, Woodbank deserves more respect than to be treated as a rubbish heap, which is why we have taken these steps to prevent any further damage.”
Flamingo Land has held two public consultations on its proposals, which they say involve some “substantial changes” since withdrawing original plans in 2019, after they attracted more than 50,000 objections.