APPROVING a Flamingo Land development on the banks of Loch Lomond would be “every bit as destructive” as approving Donald Trump’s plans for a golf resort on the Aberdeenshire coast, Scottish Green co-leader Patrick Harvie has said.

Speaking from the site in Balloch where developers are looking to build a resort complex including hotels, restaurants, a water park, a monorail, and more than 100 lodges, Harvie pointed to a petition run by his party which has gathered more than 94,000 signatures opposing the plans.

READ MORE: What do locals think of Flamingo Land's plans to develop on Loch Lomond?

The Green co-leader said: “I think it's really important that when we designate an area as a national park, that … has practical implications about the protection of the natural environment as well as making sure that the national park works for communities and for the people instead of for big business interests.

“Approving a development like Flamingo Land here would be every bit as destructive a signal as it was when the Scottish Government approved the Trump resort in Aberdeenshire.

“Our special places should not be turned into cash cows for big business.”

The Scottish Government approved plans for Trump to build a golf course on a protected dune site in 2008. Ten years later, documents reported in the media said officers found the site had been “partially destroyed”, and in late 2020 the dunes lost their status as a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Donald Trump visiting Menie in Aberdeenshire after the development of his golf course on the site (PA)

The Greens cautioned against a similar story for Loch Lomond, and highlighted how the Balloch and Haldane Community Council, the National Trust for Scotland, and the Woodland Trust, were among the almost 100,000 objections to the proposals from Flamingo Land.

The party said: “The overall number of objections make it by far the most opposed planning proposal in Scottish history, beating the record previously held by the first failed Flamingo Land proposal for Loch Lomond.”

Lomond Banks, the firm through which Flamingo Land is moving its application, has disputed the petition’s validity, saying it “cannot be validated in terms of names or provision of full addresses (more than a postcode required) and it also allows for multiple entries from the same person or household”.

Lomond Banks said the development could provide jobs and investment, creating an economic boost for the Balloch area.

Harvie told The National there were “worrying signs” from the new Scottish Government under John Swinney that they may be more sympathetic to such claims from big business.

He said: “Obviously the Greens, being part of the government, were making the case for not just planning policies but a whole host of policies that would invest in local communities and cherish our natural environment.

“I really do want to say that I hope that those principles won't be diluted – but there are some worrying signs already with some of the rhetoric coming from the SNP that's about putting economic growth and business interests ahead of those principles [and] the role that the state has in protecting [natural areas] and regulating destructive businesses.”

He added: “Most people don't want to say no to everything. They do passionately want their communities and their country to develop in the right way, to develop in a way that's sustainable, that creates a good quality environment, that enhances what we've inherited from the last generation and hands it on to the next in a better state.

“This development here is a crystal clear example of the polar opposite of that.”

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Significant concerns have been raised about the impact the development could have on traffic and congestion in the Balloch area – which is already notorious for queues along the A82 north and southbound.

Flamingo Land’s plans involve a reconfiguration of the A82 Stoneymollan roundabout and a redevelopment on the train station in Balloch in order to ease the flow of traffic.

However, Harvie (below) said: “The idea that we need to approve a resort which is going to dramatically increase the amount of road traffic … in order to justify a minor change to a roundabout or investing in public transport is simply a nonsense.”

He added: “That's a responsibility of local and national government. We don't need to hand over an area like this on the shores of Loch Lomond to a profit-hungry private developer in order to justify those kinds of improvements.”

(Image: Patrick Harvie (Image: Newsquest))

Jim Paterson, the development director for Lomond Banks, said: “We absolutely respect the democratic process and all who wish to share their voice on the proposals.

“We have been in liaison with Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park throughout this journey and have been advised there are currently 746 notes of objection to our plans, along with a number of supportive representations.

“The online petition set up by the Scottish Green Party cannot be validated in terms of names or provision of full addresses (more than a postcode required) and it also allows for multiple entries from the same person or household.

“Instead, we continue to be encouraged by feedback from key stakeholders, local businesses and members of the local community alike, and by their desire for jobs, a boost to the economy and inward investment for their town.

“As such, in an area that has long been zoned and identified in local development plans as an area for key tourism development, we believe our revised plans, while sympathetic to their surroundings, will create an exciting prospect for the gateway to Loch Lomond that local people will be proud of for generations to come.”