OPPOSITION to a proposed development in Balloch is mounting as a petition has reached more than 27,000 signatures.

Although no formal plans have been submitted as yet, the announcement last week that Scottish Enterprise had appointed Flamingo Land Limited as the preferred developer for 20 hectares at West Driverside, Balloch, prompted the launch of three separate petitions.

One on 38degrees.org.uk topped 27,000 signatures yesterday and demanded the Scottish Government "Save Loch Lomond" and refers to stopping "these kind of planning applications" to preserve national parks.

A second petition has about 500 names in opposition and a third offers 23 people in favour of Flamingo land."

Blogger Nick Kempe, who writes for parkswatchscotland, an organisation aimed at holding National Parks to account, said he believed local and national opposition were united against Flamingo Land.

He said: "Flamingo Land will 'create' low paid jobs, not what is needed, and probably send local businesses to the wall from B&Bs to outdoor ventures.

"The solution needs to be developed locally and not by an outside company being brought in. Flamingo Land will just entrench low pay in Balloch and leave local people powerless.”

MSP Jackie Baillie said: "There will be an opportunity for people to express an opinion on the plan and I would encourage everyone to ensure their opinion is heard by engaging in the planning process."

The boss of Flamingo Land responded to the reaction last week and said the development would not go ahead if the majority in Scotland was opposed.

Gordon Gibb, Flamingo Land chief executive, said he understood some of the concerns and was committed to engaging with the community.

But he questioned the petition, pointing out that it's "very easy to orchestrate any campaign by manipulating social media", reported our sister paper the Evening Times.

He said: "We would like to point out that the planning process has not even commenced yet and our proposals are concentrated on residential holidays and not creating a theme park as some publications have suggested.

"Our bid was successful due to the sensitive way in which we have considered the site in question and we look forward to continuing to cooperate with the consultation group.

"To be frank, if our plans are not welcomed by most of the people in Scotland then we will not proceed further but I do not trust the results of the petition and we have not yet been given the chance to fully explain our plans."

One of the petition, with 23 signatures, supports the economic development for the area.

Set up by Angela Smith, it states: “Please sign to help West Dunbartonshire thrive. This will bring so many jobs to our community also contribute to local businesses trying to stay afloat!

“Tourists will come, cash will come, jobs will come!!! Let the flamingos come!!! 

“Yes Loch Lomond is one of the most picturesque places to visit in Britain so let's encourage tourists a plenty to see!” 

The reaction from residents online was cautious.

Anne McLean, writing on the Reporter's Facebook page, said: “I would never sign a petition without first seeing what the proposals are. Jobs, tourism, boost for the local community. I didn't see petition against Agrekko building on green belt land or houses being built on same. It never said he was planning a theme park in the first place.”