THERE can be “no question of a gated community” on the banks of Loch Tay, senior SNP figures have said.

It comes after hundreds attended a public meeting in Aberfeldy amid concerns around US firm Discovery Land Company’s (DLC) plans to build a private, self-contained “world” at Taymouth Castle.

The US firm owns more than 30 such compounds across the globe, with access limited to members – who must purchase a property within its walls (prices vary from $3 million to $50m) and pay an annual fee (typically between $37,500 and $300,000).

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Plans to build a similar “community” at Taymouth Castle and the neighbouring Glenlyon estate have sparked major controversy and widespread media interest after The National first reported the story in early July.

Perth and North Perthshire MP Pete Wishart, alongside former deputy first minister John Swinney, organised a public meeting amid the backlash to canvas community views.

Speaking at the meeting in Aberfeldy, MSP for Perthshire North Swinney said: “There can be no gated communities in Scotland.”

Writing for The National in the wake of the meeting, Wishart laid out people’s “legitimate concerns”, as well as noting that some in the village of Kenmore supported the proposal “as a means to regenerate a community seen to be in decline”.

Kenmore Community Council and Perth and Kinross Council have both expressed support for the development.

Wishart said there were four key takeaways from the Aberfeldy meeting: that there “can be no question of a gated community”; that DLC communication on the project has been “woeful” and must improve; that key facilities in the village of Kenmore should be re-opened and remain open to the public; and that core paths and public amenities on the estate should also remain free to access.

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Green MSP Mark Ruskell, who represents Mid Scotland and Fife, was also at the meeting and spoke against the plans.

He said a recent planning application put in by DLC for further work, alongside disruption to the core path networks due to building work, has only aggravated concerns.

Ruskell went on: “We don’t need a luxury playground for the mega-rich on the banks of Loch Tay. We need to be investing in assets for the local community, not carving off land for fancy private clubs for millionaires.

"What may have been appropriate in the 19th century is not appropriate in the 21st century. The developers are going to face a huge battle unless they can change their plans and offer legally binding agreements to protect the public interest.”

Ruskell (below) further raised concerns that there is “no accountable masterplan for the project that has been shared with the community to be scrutinised”.

The National: Mark Ruskell speaking in Holyrood.

The work has been split into various planning applications, making it very difficult to track exactly what is to be done and where.

Delving into the ownership of the Taymouth Castle and Glenlyon estates, as well as facilities in Kenmore such as the beach, post office and hotel, reveals a maze of firms with similar names such as Kenmore Land Thirty Eight Ltd and asset management firms listed as company officers.

Ruskell went on: “Things have gone too far. It’s time for Discovery Land Company to halt any further planning applications, and if they won’t, for Perth and Kinross Council to finally stand up to the developers and refuse further consents.

"The plethora of planning applications have meant that it is hard to hold developers to account. Each further planning application is going to face a massive battle unless the developers can change tack and fully address concerns.”

READ MORE: Why we want to prevent Loch Tay from being a billionaires' playground

A petition launched by the Protect Loch Tay group has called for control over the planning applications linked to the development to be taken out of Perth and Kinross Council’s control.

The petition, which went live at around 7:35pm on Monday, July 17, has now passed 20,000 signatures.

The petition states: “The current scenario of individual planning applications which are being drip-fed to the community is neither fair nor ethical and could be construed as devious.

“DLC are known to currently have control over Taymouth Castle Estate, Newhall Woods on the banks of the Tay, Glenlyon Estate, Loch Farleyer, Kenmore Hotel (has been shut down), Kenmore Beach, Kenmore Beach Parking, the Paper Boat Café (shut down now) and Kenmore Boat Hire (has also been closed).

“The full extent of land, properties and estates in their control is unknown as they use over 50 different company names.”

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Responding to the petition previously, DLC insisted it was 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 under way, 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.”