I’ve heard from many residents who feel strongly about the proposed Flamingo Land development on the shores of Loch Lomond – and it’s not hard to see why. 

This is not just a planning application, it’s a question about who owns Scotland and who our beautiful country is for.

On the face of it, a new visitor attraction could be a good idea. In February, I met with Flamingo Land to discuss how their proposals might meet a series of tests I’d set out, such as how local businesses would be supported; how the environment would be protected; and how they plan to deal with traffic congestion.

I was pleased to hear that thought had been given to addressing some of my concerns, and that the vision was of something very different to Flamingo Land’s Yorkshire theme park.

But the reality here is that a big chunk of Loch Lomond is to be handed over for the sake of a high-end tourist resort and the damage this will do outweighs any positives. 

National park regulations need there to be an “overriding public interest” if it is to allow for damage to ancient woodland or otter habitats – both of which the proposals admit will happen. Loch Lomond is world famous as a stunning environment – without the ancient woodland, the wildlife and the unspoilt views, I doubt that will still be the case.

Flamingo Land say that the woodland will be accessible for people as it currently is. This may be technically true, but how much less welcoming will it be for local people to walk past the doors of holiday lodges, past corporate signage and beneath treetop walkways? Fundamentally, this development would unavoidably privatise public space at one of our nation’s greatest landmarks.

Local people have a range of visions for Balloch and their voices need heard. The fact that Scottish Enterprise are choosing to sell it off for a quick buck is something we must stand against.