Jim Bollan is a Community Party councillor, West Dunbartonshire Council

A SWEETHEART deal is being constructed by Flamingo Land, Scottish Enterprise and the Loch Lomond Park Authority (LLPA) to overdevelop publicly owned land at the southernmost tip of Loch Lomond in Balloch.

It has been put together in such a secretive manner that the public has been almost excluded, except for the 55,000 people who have objected to a development which will split the village of Balloch in half and at the same time sell off the last remaining piece of publicly owned and freely accessible land between the west bank of the River Leven and the A82, the main road route North.

As the planning authority, the LLPA sat on the selection panel with Scottish Enterprise, who are joint applicants for the development, and selected Flamingo Land as the preferred bidder.

The LLPA now has the task of granting or rejecting the planning application from the same preferred bidder they helped to select in the first place. A conflict of interest? As a coouncillor with 30 years experience, I would suggest none of the 32 Council’s in Scotland would be legally allowed to behave in this highly questionable manner.

This is a huge over-development of a site which is already visited by around one million visitors at the moment who come for the natural beauty, peace and tranquillity at the southernmost tip of Loch Lomond. Many of these visitors from around the world will disappear if the Flamingo Land development is approved.

The pollution during construction and going forward from this huge development will also impact heavily on the environment at a time when our young people have taken the lead in warning us we need to change how we live and reverse our abuse of the environment before it is too late.

We need to start listening to the scientists instead of big business whose pursuit of ever-increasing profits are slowly playing a major part in killing the planet.

West Dunbartonshire Council met Flamingo Land and Scottish Enterprise last week to discuss the proposals.

I was unimpressed with the lack of detail given to many of the questions we put to these two organisations.

But it is clear there will be no investment in any roads infrastructure even though they are gridlocked on a regular basis. The developer admits there will be additional traffic.

They couldn’t tell us how many trees will be removed to make way for all the structures and buildings.

No construction noise assessment has been carried out and there is no guarantee the majority of jobs will be for local people.

No affordable social housing is planned as required by the Local Development Plan.

And there is no engagement with the local Police, NHS or the Health & Social Care Partnership, of which the council are partners, about the additional pressures the development will put on these already stretched services.

Flamingo Land must submit more details about the design and purpose of the entrance hub, service and accommodation areas.

They must also justify why around 40% of the site they want to develop lies outside the Local Development Plan area earmarked for development. My own council needs to take a more critical look at the traffic impact given all parties accept this will increase. A proper independent assessment is also required on the impact of the development on water and sewerage systems and all wildlife surveys submitted by Flamingo Land need to be independently scrutinised.

This is a public land grab of monumental proportions in our National Park by a private developer being aided and abetted by two public quangos who have failed to protect the public interest.