Ross Greer, Scottish Greens MSP

Packing out a public meeting on a Monday night is pretty rare. When it does happen, it’s usually to save a school, a library or a hospital. In Balloch this week though, we were gathering to defend Loch Lomond from the controversial plans to sell off public land in our national park for a deeply damaging and unwelcome Flamingo Land resort.

A glance at the plans shows quite clearly why the community are so angry. They admit it will result in injury and death to red squirrels and otters, pollute running and standing water and damage ancient woodland. Despite major traffic concerns from residents and the council, it includes a 291-space car park.

Despite requirements in the Local Development Plan, there’s no provision for affordable housing. And despite their claims of job creation, the numbers promised have halved in recent months. Around 40 per cent of the site - mainly woodland - isn’t allocated for development at all. It should be the easiest rejection the National Park Board has ever made.

READ MORE: Flamingo Land Loch Lomond: Campaigners threaten campaign of civil disobedience

Beyond environmental and economic concerns there is a fundamental question; who owns Scotland? Selling public land to a private developer means access will be restricted and profits will disappear out of the community, handed to a Yorkshire-based theme park developer.

It isn’t just locals who are angry about these plans. Over 56,000 people have objected to the development, making it the most unpopular planning application in Scottish history.

We’re fighting these plans with one hand tied behind our back though, given how slanted planning law is towards developers. That’s why the frustration in Balloch was so palpable when residents learned that the SNP and Conservatives cooperated just last week to prevent measures such as a community right of appeal from being added to the new Planning Bill.

It’s highly likely this decision could be ‘called in’ by the Scottish Government. They will face a choice of siding with developers yet again or supporting the local community, defending our national park and coming down firmly on the side of public land being used for the public good. Residents in Balloch will be watching their decision carefully.