RIGHT in the middle of what was once the railway yards at Balloch, gateway to Loch Lomond, there is a big for sale sign.

Scottish Enterprise, the jobs agency, is marketing 44 acres of the former industrial site for re-development.

The billboard, now with “under offer” written in red across it, even suggests some uses for the land: hotel, hostel, lodges, retail, restaurants.

“See,” says Andy Miller, “this place has been up for sale for years and it has always been for a tourism development.”

READ MORE: Ross Greer: Why I oppose Loch Lomond resort 

Mr Miller is the reason why there is a red band across the “for sale” sign. Or rather his employer, Flamingo Land, is.

The theme park operator has partnered up with Scottish Enterprise to turn the old railway sidings and part of a former dye works into a new resort,

£30 million or so worth of wooden lodges, some low-rise restaurants, a youth hostel and a 60-room apart-hotel.

Their application has provoked what is thought to be the most objections ever in Scottish planning history, more than 55,000. Why? Because the holiday park sits just within the boundary of Scotland’s first national park, Loch Lomond and The Trossachs.

Green MSP Ross Greer has led the campaign against the development. Writing in The Herald last month, he said: “The overwhelming majority of the land is currently in public hands, owned by a government agency.

“Putting it simply, this is a plan to sell off public land, in a world-famous national park, for a private developer to profit from.”

Mr Miller and his employers at Flamingo Land have stayed out of the politics and did not respond straight away to criticism. But walking around the area – which he called Lomond Banks, to complement Lomond Shores, an earlier stage of Scottish Enterprise’s development of Balloch – he says he believes good people have got the wrong end of the stick.

Mr Miller cites two main “misconceptions”, as he sees it: that the land was previously some kind “public” nature reserve teeming with wildlife and that what is proposed is a theme park.

He says: “Far from it. This is not a place for a theme park. People are signing up to things that they are not fully understanding.

READ MORE: Loch Lomond: Record objections to holiday resort in national park 

“They see something being posted on social media which says, ‘theme park operator developing Loch Lomond’ and ‘sign this petition to stop this petition to stop that happening’. But people don’t know what is actually happening. “

As he shows The Herald around the site, Mr Miller pulls from a folder artists’ impressions of Lomond Banks. There is a boardwalk along the banks of the Leven, an urban-looking square next to Balloch Station (now a car park) with a micro-brewery and a youth hostel and wooden lodges nestled below a canopy of trees. He does point to one planned large structure, a step-shaped hotel with an indoor pool on the opposite bank to an existing animal attraction, Drumkinnon Tower. Overall, he suggests, the resort is more Centre Parcs than Disneyland.

Does it matter that people think he’s building a theme park? After all, the national park authority will make its decision based on evidence, not public opinion. It does, he says. “The perception of the public is really important given they are the people who will be holidaying here. We want them to be convinced this is a good thing.”

Opposition has focused on wildlife. An environmental impact study found development would be bad for iconic Loch Lomond species like red squirrels or otters.

That is another misconception, Mr Miller says. “The report said squirrels and other animals exist in the Loch Lomond area, but that there were no signs of them on this site. While the habitat here is probably suitable, there are too many humans nearby for them.”

If it gets the go-ahead, Lomond Banks will join the centre of Balloch, through the old railway yard, to the mooring of the now ground Maid of the Loch paddle steamer and on across the former dye works to Lomond Shores. Work would take place from 2021 to 2024.

“Nothing will be blocked off,” Mr Miller says. “There will be no wall, no fence. Effectively, if you really wanted to walk up to the front door of a lodge, you could do it. We want to let people enjoy what they already enjoy.”

Will the site – which has gone wild since the 1980s – be as green as it is now? Yes, said Mr Miller.