THE biggest planning objection in Scottish history has been lodged against a proposed holiday resort on the shores of Loch Lomond, writes David Leask.

Some 55,000 people have formally opposed a scheme to develop a brownfield site in Balloch after a mass campaign by the Green MSP Ross Greer.

Insiders said the sheer volume of objections is now expected to slow down an already drawn-out planning process for the scheme, which is just inside the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park.

Jobs quango Scottish Enterprise and theme park operator Flamingo Land last month submitted a new masterplan for the project which features a water park, 60-bedroom apart-hotel, a craft brewery, boat house, leisure centre and restaurants.

READ MORE: MSP delivers 'record number of objections' to Loch Lomond plans

Renamed Lomond Banks after sparking the Save Loch Lomond campaign, the would-be developers say they will create 80 full-time jobs, 50 part-time ones and up to 70 seasonal posts to the area.

However, Mr Greer said he believed his campaign was much more than a hyper-local “nimby” attempt to stop a development as it goes right to the heart of the environmental imperative behind the national park.

Mr Greer said: “A casual reading of the developer’s own environmental impact assessment shows quite clearly why rejection should be the National Park board’s conclusion.

“Damage to ancient woodland, pollution of running and standing water and red squirrel and otter fatalities are some of the most striking features. And that’s not to mention residents’ serious concerns about traffic and the impact on local infrastructure.

“You only need to visit on a sunny bank holiday weekend to see how justified they are to be worried about the effect of hundreds more cars on local roads.

“Given the developer’s own impact assessment, even after factoring in their mitigation efforts, came to these conclusions, they are left to argue that an ‘overriding public interest’ should allow them to bypass environmental protections.

“The overriding interest they’ve chosen, jobs, has fallen apart as this saga has gone on, with Flamingo Land now offering less than half of the jobs they originally promised. Their own assessment notes that 75% of those jobs would be created even if their development didn’t go ahead.”

READ MORE: First images of 'Lomond Banks' development revealed

Some locals share Mr Greer’s concerns, on traffic and other issues. However, Balloch and Haldane Community Council does not. While acknowledging concerns, the council’s chairman, Murdoch Cameron, said he suspected many objections came from well beyond the banks of Loch Lomond.

He said: “A lot of nonsense has been spoken about this. People are talking about the effect of the development on wildlife like red squirrels or otters. But it has been years since I have seen them.

“This is a brownfield site, an old railway yard that has been set aside for tourism for years. We need an injection of cash, let’s get on with it.”

Developers Flamingo Land - owned by the children of the late Scottish entrepreneur and Hamilton Academical FC vice-chairman Robert Gibbs - have changed their initial designs, with supporters saying they are now proposing something akin to a Centre Parcs resort.

However, chief executive Gordon Gibb, a former chairman of Bradford City FC, have not responded to objections or Mr Greer’s comments.

READ MORE: Changes made to £30m Loch Lomond development plans

The site is made up of part of the old British Silk Dyeing factory at Drumkinnon Bay and an area occupied by railway sidings between Balloch Central and the now-closed Balloch Pier stations.

This area is best known as the departure point of the old Maid of the Loch, the now grounded paddle steamer whose slipway is just outside the Lomond Banks development, and private cruises.

John Sweeney, of Sweeney’s Cruise Company in Balloch is one of those who has backed the proposals saying the area needs the investment. The Maid of the Loch’s charity has made no objection.

Flamingo Land Limited, the formal applicant, was selected as the “preferred developer” after a national marketing campaign for the 44-acre site That gave the company exclusivity over the area to undertake site investigations such as geotechnical, ecology, flood risk, utilities and access studies.

Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park Authority, whose Balloch HQ is close to the site, now has to review objections as it comes a final view on the new masterplan. It is unable to say how long this will take.

READ MORE: Green MSP questions 'Lomond Banks' job claims

A spokeswoman said: “An application of this scale is understandably going to attract a great deal of public and media interest.

“As the Planning Authority considering a live application we are limited in what we can say at this stage in the process, but we do provide updates on where we are in the process on our website.

“We assess the application against relevant planning policies, including those set out in our Local Development Plan.Until all the information has been considered, including responses from the public and statutory consultees like SEPA, the local Community Council and relevant local authority departments, we are not in a position to make a recommendation to members of our Board about whether to approve or refuse the application.

“All responses and public comments will be taken into account when determining the application, including those submitted online through the Scottish Green Party campaign.

“No determination date has been set for this application. Once a date has been confirmed it will be publicised and everyone who has submitted a representation to the application will be informed.”