CONTROVERSIAL plans to build a Flamingo Land theme park on the shores of Loch Lomond may have already breached strict environmental planning rules, the Scottish Greens have said.
The party also revealed that key images that should have been included in a vital Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) when submitting the application were missing and were only uploaded to the planning portal in August.
As these changes have not been announced to the public, a planning law expert said failure to rectify this and republish the plans could leave the bid open to judicial review.
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Plans for the huge complex, named the Lomond Banks project, were lodged with Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park for the second time in May after the initial bid withdrew.
The first offering saw over 60,000 people sign a petition opposing the development, with a second petition gathering pace with around 30,000 signatures currently.
Locals have frequently opposed the move and a campaign group Save Loch Lomond has been set up to fight the development which includes a refurbished tourist information building, a 60-bed hotel and 127 self-catering cottages.
The latest plans abandoned a development in the ancient forest of Drumkinnon Wood due to objections to the environmental impact.
And now Flamingo Land‘s second bid has come under closer scrutiny, with a legal expert pointing out that the company’s claims that the forest has been ‘saved’ don’t stand up to scrutiny as the claim contradicts itself.
One of the potential outcomes of the development could be the felling of up to two hectares (three football pitches) of woodland as well as the widespread clearing of trees elsewhere.
Legal planning expert Ian Cowan, representing local Greens MSP Ross Greer, submitted a detailed objection to officials over Flamingo Land’s bid.
Greer learned that the “visualizations” accompanying the planning application were missing and were uploaded to the portal with the park authority on August 3 – three months after the first wave of documents were filed.
Since these changes were not notified or announced to the public, there would be no way for residents and those who object to them to know that they were part of the missing EIA.
The planning portal displays four separate documents – totaling 67 pages – of visual representations of development. An image in the second document clearly shows trees will be felled to make way for parking on Pier Road South, a road that leads to the shores of the loch.
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Cowan’s detailed opinion clarifies that, since the drawings constituted an amendment to the EIA, the park authority is legally obliged to announce the plans for consultation.
Failure to do so, Cowan adds, would leave any final development decision open to judicial review.
He also raised concerns about confusion over the number of parking spaces required, as well as the mitigation measures that will be put in place for the environmental impact.
In a letter he said: “My client therefore urges you to recommend to the Planning Committee of the Authority that the application be refused and informs you that, if approved, my client will consider applying to the Court of Session for a court request. reconsideration of this decision.
Cowan also clarifies that when there are “dozens of flaws and errors” in a planning request, it is difficult to make “reasonable assumptions about what other details are correct.”
He added: “Eventually a threshold is reached where it becomes impossible to assume that a particular detail is correct.
“My client submits that the application has met this threshold and should be dismissed on the sole basis that it is incomplete and incomprehensible.”
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Greer, who organized a fundraiser to pay for legal advice, said: ‘Ian’s work has shown that the app is even more flawed than we had imagined, with confusion over key aspects such how much ancient forest to destroy and how many parking spaces will be created.
“The revelation of flawed procedure around the environmental impact assessment and visualizations is particularly significant.
“Some of the images show how much of a scar this development would be on the local landscape, so it is essential that they are advertised clearly and correctly.”
Flamingo Land and Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park have been contacted for comment.