A PETITION aiming to stop the development of an historic Scottish castle into a private compound for the mega-rich has passed its first major milestone.

The petition had gathered 5000 signatures by Thursday morning, after launching less than 72 hours before at around 7:30pm on Monday evening.

By close of play on Thursday, the number of people who had signed had passed 6500 and was still climbing.

The focus of the petition, which was set up by the campaigners behind the Protect Loch Tay group, is the development of Taymouth Castle and the neighbouring Glenlyon estate by the US firm Discovery Land Company (DLC).

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DLC runs more than 30 “worlds” around the globe, but they are mainly concentrated in North America. These private compounds serve as holiday homes for the super-rich, with access restricted to members who have purchased a property within its grounds. These come with a pricetag of anywhere between $3 million and $50m.

Members of DLC “clubs” also have to pay an annual fee, which elsewhere is between $37,500 and $300,000.

Perth and Kinross Council have said they are “broadly supportive of this ambitious project to restore the category A listed Taymouth Castle, and to use part of the wider estate for leisure-related facilities”.

The council said that DLC was implementing planning permission which was granted to other owners in 2011, adding that the firm is “fully aware they need to apply for planning permission for any changes they wish to make to the originally approved proposals”.

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But the campaigners behind the petition accuse the council of having “failed to protect this beautiful area”, and they are asking for oversight of the project to be taken out of its hands.

“The people of Scotland and our visitors from around the world stand to lose access to land around Kenmore, and have our peace and tranquility on and around Loch Tay destroyed by the Discovery Land Company’s overdevelopment,” the petition says.

It goes on: “DLC have already been granted consent for around 208 luxury homes, aimed at millionaires, and are now seeking further consents which, if granted, will damage what we have …

“Now is the time to act before further consents are given, and we have lost our stunning natural heritage in this area forever. If lost it cannot be replaced.”

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DLC said that they were investing not just in Taymouth Castle but in Kenmore village, and would seek to preserve the area’s “tranquility”.

A spokesperson for the firm said: “The developers of Taymouth Castle Estate share the local community’s desire to maintain the peace and tranquility of the area, which is without doubt its greatest asset.

“Our commitment to improving what is already here is evident in the considered restoration and redevelopment underway, within and beyond the castle walls.

“Discovery Land Company has a deep passion for safeguarding both the welfare of wildlife and the local environment. We are collaborating with NatureScot, arboretum consultants and ecology conservationist experts, among other specialists, to ensure our actions are in harmony with nature.

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“We are actively investing in the revival of some of Kenmore’s most valued assets and amenities for public use and enjoyment, including the Kenmore Hotel, the village shop, beach area and Paper Boat Café. These efforts seek to rejuvenate Kenmore and bring benefit to the local area.

“While the petition to protect the loch comes from a good place, it has generated some anxiety among local people. We want to provide assurances that we are dedicated to addressing any inaccuracies and dispelling misconceptions.

“We will continue to work with the Kenmore and District Community Council to ensure the accuracy of information provided, enabling informed decision-making based on facts rather than speculation.

“We remain open to addressing any questions or concerns and providing regular updates on the development through the Welcome to Taymouth website.”

You can find the petition here.