PLANNERS at Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park have recommended the £30 million development by Flamingo Land be refused.

In a report released today, officers have described the development, which will see more than 120 holiday lodges, a hotel and brewery built.

The report says the proposal would "result in significant unacceptable impacts on the landscape, visual amenity, trees and woodland".

It adds: " It would also, as a result, adversely affect the built heritage of the area and the enjoyment of the Pierhead area by both visitors and locals. There are no socio-economic reasons, or public benefits that would outweigh these reasons. It is also not considered that the use of planning conditions could reasonably control or mitigate these impacts."

The development has been dubbed the "most unpopular in Scottish history", after thousands of people filed objections, including almost 60,000 through an online platform set up by the Scottish Greens.

Concluding the report, officers said: "The conclusion from the above is clear; the application does not comply with the Local Development Plan and there are no material considerations that outweigh this conclusion.

"The conservation and enhancement of the natural and cultural heritage of the National Park underpins the National Park aims, National Park partnership plan and local development plan and it is on this basis that the Officer’s recommendation is that this application should be refused."

Detractors have maintained the proposal does not fit with the aims set out by the National Park itself, something officers agree with.

The report states: "The application does not comply with the local development plan for the National Park, it is contrary to the National Park’s aims.

"It is therefore recommended that the application is refused."

Despite the report, the final decision is down members of the national park board.

A meeting has been set for September 24, and members of the public who have objected now have until Monday, September 16, to apply to speak on the day.

Drumkinnon Wood has also been pinpointed as a particular area which would be effected by the development, which is echoed in the report.

Planners say "It it has not been demonstrated that Drumkinnon Wood – the southern half of Zone D in the parameters plan - has the capacity, physically and ecologically, for the level of development proposed without compromising the quality of the woodland".

The report continues: "It may be possible to accommodate some lower impact recreational facilities - tree-top walks or children’s play structures for example - within this area but this couldn’t be confirmed from the information provided."

Breaking down the impact of the site on the surrounding area, the report said: "The applicants proposed development parameters for the Pierhead Zone seek a building height up to 24m, which is 1m lower than the existing Drumkinnon Tower. It is concluded that the scale and height of the proposed parameters at the Pierhead would be unacceptable."

Planners say this building would effect views from Balloch Park, Loch Lomond Shores and Balloch Castle.

Looking at the impact on the wider economy, the report states the loss of important and idyllic views in the area could impact on visitor numbers, and the development would need to provide an overriding public benefit, which it has not done.

Woodland in the area was considered to have "important biodiversity value and it is essential that this is retained".

Jobs coming to the area would be a positive, but would not outweigh what would be lost, according to the report.

It said: "Considering the unacceptable impacts identified, this application would not comply with Overarching Policy 1 and 2, Visitor Experience Policy 1 and Natural Environment Policy 8 of the LDP. Further, in terms of recreational interests, whilst there would be some positive impacts relating to the quality of recreational experience for users of the area, these would be not be outweighed by the negative impacts resulting from the Pierhead development."

West of Scotland MSP Ross Greer, who led a campaign against the development, told the Reporter: "“This is a monumental victory for our community campaign to save Loch Lomond from these destructive proposals and to keep this huge chunk of our national park in public hands.

"I am delighted that officials have recognised the avalanche of objections from residents and people across Scotland who value their publicly-owned national park.

“A glance at the plans shows quite clearly why anger is so widespread. Their proposals admit the development will result in injury and death to red squirrels and otters, pollute running & standing water and damage ancient woodland.

“The Park board must now acknowledge what their own officials, the public and the local authority have told them about the potential impact of this development.

"To grant permission now would be to put the interests of big business ahead of the public and the world-famous environment and wildlife of the loch. It’s time to reject Flamingo Land once and for all.”

Andy Miller, a director of the project, told the Reporter: "Andy Miller, director of Lomond Banks said:“We have always respected the Officers’ professionalism and It is disappointing that they have recommended refusal of our plans for Lomond Banks. Loch Lomond is a national treasure and our plans seek to enhance the natural beauty of the area while attracting more people to the benefit of the local economy. We remain hopeful that the National Park Board will recognise the merits of the scheme and grant permission for the proposals at their meeting on 24th September.

“Following recent news reports about West Dunbartonshire Council’s net debt – and it being the highest in Scotland – investments like Lomond Banks should be welcomed. Our ambition is to invest £30m, creating more than 200 jobs and bringing significant benefits to local businesses. It is a real shame that the people of West Dunbartonshire might miss out because we know that Lomond Banks can add immeasurable value to the area for many, many years to come.”

West Dunbartonshire MP Martin Docherty-Hughes said: “I welcome the news that National Park officials have recommended that the Flamingo Land development at Balloch should be rejected.

“As the local MP I’ve been clear that I will not support any plans that would be detrimental to historic public access to Loch Lomond.

“I share the concerns of groups such as Ramblers Scotland and the Woodland Trust who say the development would result in an unacceptable loss of local woodland and difficulties for road users.

“More than 57,000 people signed the petition - demonstrating clearly the strength of feeling against it locally and across Scotland.

“It’s vital now that the park authority board listens to these concerns and formally rejects the planning application at the meeting on 24th September.”

Dumbarton's MSP Jackie Baillie told the Reporter: “Given the vast number of people opposed to the Flamingo Land development, it is welcome news that planning officers from Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park have recommended that the application is refused.

“For months I have had a stream of letters and emails from concerned constituents who have raised a number of issues with the proposed development.

“It is clear that the local community has not been the priority of the developer and there are concerns that the development would negatively impact on the local economy as well.

“I hope that the board of the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park will heed the advice given by their planning officers when they vote on the application at the end of September.”