SENIOR SNP politicians will raise “deeply concerning” reports of breached planning rules and a smashed monument with the US company developing Taymouth Castle, The National has been told.

It comes after this paper reported that Discovery Land Company (DLC), the firm looking to develop the Taymouth estate and numerous other parcels of land into a luxury resort for the mega-rich, had started work without planning permission.

While a DLC application for a “foul water treatment plant” with drainage into the River Tay is still pending amid environmental concerns raised by government agency NatureScot, satellite images from April 2023 reveal that work has already begun.

READ MORE: 'Abominable': Fresh concerns for Loch Tay plans over US firm's track record abroad

And questions have been asked after it was also revealed that a B-listed monument within the Taymouth Castle grounds had been smashed.

DLC have said the damage to the 18th century stone urn is “suspected vandalism”, according to Perth and Kinross Council.

However, the firm did not respond to The National’s requests for details on when they noticed the damage or if it was reported to the police.

In the wake of the reports, former deputy first minister John Swinney – who has been involved with the DLC project since holding a public meeting to gauge sentiments in late July – said the issues must be taken “immensely seriously”.

The National: John Swinney

The SNP MSP for Perthshire North (above) said: “It is a non-negotiable obligation of anyone undertaking a development in Scotland that they must comply with all environmental, historic environment and planning obligations, and that applies to Discovery Land Company.

“These reports of developments undertaken without planning consent, and concerns about protection of historical artefacts must be taken immensely seriously by Discovery Land Company, by Perth and Kinross Council, by NatureScot and by Sepa [the Scottish Environment Protection Agency].

“It is vital that these issues are now addressed.”

Pete Wishart, the SNP’s longest serving MP, said he would be raising the issues directly with DLC at their next meeting.

Wishart, who also arranged the July public meeting alongside Swinney, told The National: “Reports of Discovery Land Company operating without planning consent, and of a protected monument being broken on the Taymouth Castle estate, are deeply concerning.

READ MORE: Smashed listed monument at Taymouth Castle raises questions for developers

“It is imperative that developers abide by all regulations in place, and any allegations that DLC have failed to do so must be taken with the utmost seriousness.

“I remain in regular contact with both DLC and Perth and Kinross Council, and will be raising these reports at our next meeting.”

Sent the comments from Swinney and Wishart and asked for a response, DLC did not reply.

The Protect Loch Tay (PLT) campaign group, which obtained the images of the planning rules breach and smashed monument, welcomed the “sober and thoughtful” words from the SNP politicians – but said it “is time for these words to be turned into action”.

The National:

A spokesperson for the group said: “We are heartened by the statements from [Swinney and Wishart] regarding DLC’s most recent unauthorised and egregious actions, as well as the destruction of the monument at Taymouth.

"Back in July we were greatly encouraged by Swinney and Wishart calling a public meeting in response to our petition. The deep public concern expressed at that time has only mounted.

“Swinney’s subsequent letter to DLC, although welcomed by all, received an unacceptable response, in our opinion, as most questions were unanswered.

“After DLC’s recent acquisition of the Moness Resort, Swinney again called on the developers to hold a public meeting to answer Scotland’s concerns. We are still waiting for the date, time and place of this public meeting to be announced.”

READ MORE: Investigation launched into 'unauthorised development' on billionaire's estate

In September, DLC confirmed it had purchased the Moness Resort in Aberfeldy. As well as that and the Taymouth estate, the US firm also owns the Glenlyon estate, Kenmore Hotel, Kenmore post office and shop, Taymouth Trading, Brae Cottages, Am Fasgadh and Gatehouse, Paper Boat, Police House, and the Boathouse cottages, among other properties.

The PLT spokesperson went on: “DLC appear to be masters at working their way around planning rules and environmental safeguards.

“Michael Meldman, the owner of Taymouth Castle, looks proud of his record of overcoming environmental safeguards.

"He describes his first major land acquisition, a 300-acre plot in California: ‘This land we bought had every environmental constraint you could think of.’

"It took 18 years for him to build 28 houses on the land. The point is that the DLC ethos is one of getting what they want, just look at some of their other ‘worlds’, their track record is deplorable.”

As The National has reported previously, DLC’s track record abroad has caused concern, as it includes law violations, negative environmental impacts, and broken promises of community investment.

The PLT spokesperson added: “It is time that MSPs, MPs, Perth and Kinross Council and all other relevant bodies step up and take responsibility for the oversight of DLC, who clearly need to be scrutinised closely and held accountable.”

PLT now have more than 155,000 signatures on a petition aimed at curbing the development of Taymouth Castle until better oversight can be put in place. They also say they have more than 3200 members in their group.