OPPONENTS of plans for a new “leadership centre” on the shores of Loch Lomond haven’t given up their fight against the proposals – more than a month after they were unanimously approved.

An application by the Hunter Foundation, led by Scottish businessman and philanthropist Sir Tom Hunter, for a site in the grounds of Ross Priory, near Gartocharn, was given the green light by the planning and access committee of the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Authority (LLTNPA) on November 23.

But more than seven weeks since that meeting, no official notification of planning permission being granted has been published on the park authority’s website.

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Councillor Sally Page and other opponents of the project, including the area’s community council, are angry that the park authority approved the Hunter Foundation’s application without asking for an environmental impact assessment (EIA).

Fishing and angling associations, university professors and other local residents also put forward their concerns about how the new building might impact local wildlife.

Councillor Page has written to Kevin Stewart MSP, the Scottish Government’s minister for local government, housing and planning, asking him to review the committee’s decision by making a “screening direction for an environmental impact assessment”.

Officials at Mr Stewart’s department are now considering that request.

Councillor Page said: “At last it looks as if the SNP government in Holyrood might just be waking up to the issues raised by the Hunter Foundation’s plans for Ross Priory.

“It should never have got this far. It contravenes planning policies for the National Park, something that the planning authority acknowledged in 2019 in private correspondence with the Hunter Foundation.”

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Stuart Mearns, the park’s director of rural development and planning, wrote to Mr Stewart’s department: “LLTNPA has undertaken a thorough and comprehensive EIA screening in respect of [this] application, and in adopting the screening opinion, we believe we have complied with all relevant regulations and procedure.

“The screening process commenced immediately following submission of the application.”

A National Park spokesperson said: “Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) are not required for every application and a rigorous screening process is carried out to determine when this is needed.

“The screening process for the Hunter Foundation application, undertaken by the authority, concluded that an assessment was not required.

“A number of environmental factors were carefully considered as part of the planning assessment and determination, as required by the authority’s planning policies.

“We are aware that a third party request has been submitted to Scottish ministers for what is known as an EIA screening direction.

“If ministers consider an EIA is required then the applicant would need to prepare this and the application would then be assessed again and determined by the National Park Authority.”

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