MSP Ross Greer blasted for ‘clickbait politics’ over Flamingoland petition

Patrick Harvie and Ross Greer of the Green Party on the banks of Loch LomondPatrick Harvie and Ross Greer of the Green Party on the banks of Loch Lomond.

By Lucy Ashton

The company behind a controversial development at Loch Lomond has branded a petition which garnered more than 65,000 signatures against the proposals “a sham”.

Flamingo Land is looking to build a £30 million-plus development in Balloch, including a hotel, self catering lodges and a water park.

But the Scottish Greens – in particular West Scotland MSP Ross Greer – have led a campaign to stop the Lomond Banks plan, with the party claiming 65,000 people signed a petition to voice their opposition, and saying the response makes it the most unpopular planning application in Scottish history.

The current plans are the second attempt by the Yorkshire-based firm to build on the land near Loch Lomond, having previously withdrawn their first application in 2019.

Speaking after the petition reached more than 65,000 signatures, Jim Paterson, the development director of the project, hit out at Mr Greer – who has been an outspoken voice against the plans since their first iteration.

“Ross Greer has once again demonstrated that he is more interested in clickbait politics aimed at raising his own profile than having a constructive dialogue about what could be a major investment into both the local economy in Balloch and Scotland as a whole,” he said.

“He has relentlessly tried to interfere with a statutory planning process that doesn’t sit within his jurisdiction and – in a shameless attempt to get people to click his online petition – the majority of the claims he has made about our proposals are utterly false.

“There is simply no way to validate the numbers he is quoting and who the people who clicked his sham petition are or where they live.”

The petition set up by the Scottish Greens urges people to “save Loch Lomond” although the proposed holiday village is located in Balloch itself and along the River Leven. It involves woodland surrounding the existing Loch Lomond Shores shopping mall and the Sea Life Centre.

A layout of the plan and the proposed area for the development

A layout of the plan and the proposed area for the development

According to the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park Authority – the body tasked with deciding if the plans should go ahead – “any individual, group or organisation can make comments of objection or support for a planning application while it is open for consultation”.

Along with Mr Greer, the National Trust for Scotland, Forestry Scotland and Ramblers Scotland have also voiced their objection to the plans.

However, The Friends of Loch Lomond has backed the plans and Mr Paterson went on to say the group had engaged with the local community.

“We have spoken and listened to real people, local and national businesses, and other stakeholders about how we can create a world class, sustainable tourist destination that is both fitting for the area and is sympathetic to its important location at the gateway of Loch Lomond,” he said.

Artists' impression of Lomond Banks development at Balloch, proposed by Flamingo Land developers

An artists’ impression of the Lomond Banks development, left, alongside the existing Sea Life Centre, shopping mall and car parks
 (Image: Lomond Banks)

“We have legally promised to leave the ancient woodland of Drumkinnon untouched and with our recent re-submission, the removal of ‘area 10’ means that in fact our plans will bring about biodiversity net gain.

“So we are indeed a long way from the accusations Mr Greer is making.

“Having listened to all voices within the area and amended our plans around community and stakeholder feedback accordingly, we believe that if successful, Lomond Banks will not only revitalise an area which holds such national importance, but provide numerous opportunities and investment so that the economic benefit for Scottish tourism and the local area will be felt and enjoyed for years to come.”

Meanwhile, Flamingo Land  have promised to create more jobs to bring an economic boom to Balloch.

Lomond Banks has proposed a £40 million ‘world class’ sustainable tourism destination as it reaffirms its pledge the development would provide numerous job opportunities for the local community.

It follows the Scottish Greens relaunching a campaign to “Save Loch Lomond”, which has been blasted as a “sham” and politicking by the developers and some branding  it “preposterous and misleading”.

The resubmitted plans continue through the required 30-day consultation phase, the developers are keen to highlight once again its unilateral voluntary undertaking, known as ‘The Lomond Promise’ to the National Park, which legally binds its promises for the area into legal obligations for the proposed development.

Within ‘The Lomond Promise’, Flamingo Land claims it has committed to the vows it has made to the community at pre-application stage, relating to a number of areas, including employment and training alongside supporting local businesses and supply chain.

Flamingo Land claim that through construction to its operation, Lomond Banks will deliver a significant economic boost for the local area with high investment figures and direct and indirect jobs, including more than 360 gross temporary construction job opportunities created during the building phase alone.

Having vowed to use local businesses and suppliers where possible throughout the construction of Lomond Banks, it’s estimated that the development will bring with it a projected £3 million economic boost to the region, £1.5 million economic boost in the wider region and a £2 million economic boost to Scotland itself.

The destination will require a diverse range of workers, with potential roles available across entry-level positions to highly skilled vacancies, covering full-time, part-time and seasonal posts for the area, once open.

The ‘Lomond Promise’ sets out within the legally binding contract that should planning permission in principle be granted, Lomond Banks will commit to providing the real living wage and ensure that there are no zero-hour contracts for the estimated 200 full-time and part-time jobs that will be required to run the eco-resort.

Jim Paterson, development director for Lomond Banks, told one journalist: “We are steadfast in our belief that Lomond Banks will bring considerable economic and social benefit to both Balloch and the wider area. Having listened to feedback from the community, businesses and stakeholders throughout the consultation process, we know that these issues are important to residents and so have ensured that fair working practices and supporting local businesses within the area are ingrained within our legally binding ‘Lomond Promise’.

“We believe our proposal will not only revitalise the gateway to Loch Lomond but offer a wider boost to existing businesses that already operate here and provide numerous opportunities for those keen to work for a progressive and forward thinking employer. As such, Lomond Banks is committed to being an active and responsible participant of the Balloch business community for many years to come.”

One comment

  1. Mr Paterson as an ex police officer should know better than making personal attacks on the integrity of Ross Greer our MSP. The personal attacks demonstrate Flamingo Land know their second application is in dire trouble with the highest ever number of objections against any Planning Application made in Scottish History.

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