Controversial plans for a tourism development on the banks of Loch Lomond by the owners of Flamingo Land could have broken strict environmental planning rules, leaving the development open to potential future legal challenge.

That is the view of the Scottish Greens, who have been leading a campaign against the revamped plans for holiday accommodation and lodges in the National Park.

They say key images that would let people see how the site would look should have been included in a vital Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) when the application was submitted in May by the Yorkshire-based theme park operator.

Local MSP Ross Greer has learned that the ‘visualisations’ were missing and only uploaded to the National Park’s planning portal on August 3, months later. 

Read more: Flamingo Land chiefs accused of 'crude and cynical' move by MSP

It is understood the late changes were not notified or advertised to the public meaning there would be no way for people to know that they formed part of the missing EIA.

Loch Lomond tourism development plans could be  open to a legal challengeBefore image - Loch Lomond shore view

The new visualisations show the scale and impact Flamingo Land’s plans at Balloch would have on the local area, as seen from points such as across the loch and from the other side of the River Leven.

An environmental and planning law expert said it renders the application flawed and if it continues now without going back through the necessary steps, would leave it open to future legal challenge.

Loch Lomond tourism development plans could be  open to a legal challengeImage shows white buildings behind which would form part of station square. The green sheds are a separate development.

 

Planning law specialist Ian Cowan has submitted a detailed objection to officials on behalf of Mr Greer.

Mr Cowan’s expert opinion states that, as the drawings constituted a change to the EIA, the National Park are legally required to re-advertise the plans for consultation, and failure to do so would leave any final decision subject to judicial review.

In a letter he says: "My client therefore urges you to recommend to the Authority’s Planning Committee that the Application be refused, and gives you notice that, should it be approved, my client will consider petitioning the Court of Session for judicial review of that decision.

Mr Greer, Green MSP for West of Scotland, has led a community campaign against the plans over the last four years, helping 60,000 people to lodge objections to Flamingo Land’s first application and most recently fundraising thousands of pounds to procure this specialist legal advice.

He said: “Ian’s work has shown that the application is even more flawed than we had realised, with confusion over key aspects such as how much ancient woodland is to be destroyed and how many car parking spaces will be created.

"The revelation of a flawed procedure around the Environmental Impact Assessment and visualisations is particularly important.

“Some of the images show just how much of a scar on the local landscape this development would be, so it's vital that they are advertised clearly and properly."

Mr Greer, who helped campaigners see off a previous application by the same developer, for the site, added:  "I'd like to thank Ian and the hundreds of people whose donations allowed us to procure his services.”

A petition against Flamingo Land has so far attracted close to 33,000 objections. 

Jim Paterson, Development Director for Lomond Banks, said: “This is another spurious attempt by Ross Greer to disrupt the legitimate planning process by scaremongering and presenting misinformation as fact.  

“The August 3 submission included images to inform the landscape and visual impact assessment and supported the conclusions of that assessment. At this stage in the planning process (planning permission in principle), these matters are always reserved for the detailed application stage.

“The planning authority accepted the information, and made it available on the planning portal in accordance with its procedures. It does not change the EIA in any way, nor did the planning authority identify any requirement for further consultation or notification.”

Representatives for Lomond Banks also disputed Mr Greer's claim that ancient woodland would be destoyred saying this is entirely false and it has been stated publicly that the ancient Drumkinnon Woods would be retained in its entirety.