THE US firm looking to build a private holiday compound for the mega-rich on the banks of Loch Tay took a year to respond to residents’ questions about the development, locals have claimed.

Discovery Land Company (DLC), which owns the Taymouth Castle Estate, was allegedly first asked a series of questions – such as what land they actually owned and their plans for it – on August 14, 2022.

However, DLC’s “comprehensive and authoritative response” to a set of questions was only issued through Kenmore Community Council (KCC) on August 1, 2023.

In an interview with The Courier published on July 31, DLC project manager Tom Collopy conceded that the firm's "communication needs to be improved greatly".

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Approached by The National, a spokesperson for DLC insisted that "claims of inadequate communication are unsubstantiated".

The Q&A which appeared on the KCC website this month answers some of the questions submitted the previous year, but not all.

Questions campaigners say are key – such as whether free public access to Kenmore beach will continue, if DLC plans to purchase property or land in the nearby town of Aberfeldy, and if any properties on the castle grounds will be offered to the public as affordable holiday accommodation – remain unanswered.

DLC said any outstanding questions would be addressed "soon", but insisted that communication with KCC has been open since April 2022 and many of the requested information has been published in the council’s minutes and on its website.

KCC said that the “authoritative” responses published on August 1, 2023 were to questions “posed to us recently by people who live and work in our community [and] put to DLC prior to the recent meeting involving John Swinney and Pete Wishart [on July 27]”.

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After that meeting, Swinney (above), alongside his SNP colleague Wishart, wrote to DLC raising concerns about the “lack of open, accessible communication” from the firm, which was called “woeful”.

Wishart told The National it is “about time that DLC positively engage with the community and it's good to see that they at last are getting round to explaining what they are intending to do on the Taymouth Castle estate”.

He went on: “The one thing missing is the full vision that they have for the estate and other properties which they have acquired. John Swinney and I asked them to outline their full plans to the community and we asked them to get back to us by Monday August 14.

“We look forward to seeing these plans in full and we will get back to the Kenmore community and those interested in this development when we secure that response.”

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Campaigning over the development is being led by the Protect Loch Tay (PLT) group.

In a letter sent to DLC and seen by The National, the PLT group wrote: “We appreciate the response from Discovery Land Company to the list of questions from concerned residents, which were submitted to Kenmore Community Council on August 14, 2022.

“It has taken a year for their response to residents’ concerns, however, this is a positive step from DLC, no doubt.

“We appreciate DLC taking responsibility for their ‘woeful’ communication (as described recently by John Swinney MSP) with the public thus far, and taking steps to amend it.”

The group further said they “look forward” to the promised disclosure of a map showing the extent of DLC’s property ownership and plans for both the Taymouth site and the neighbouring 7000-acre Glenlyon estate, which it also owns.

In the answers published on the KCC website, DLC confirmed that it owns “the Kenmore Hotel (below), the shop and post office, Taymouth Trading, Brae Cottages, Am Fasgadh and Gatehouse, Paper Boat, Police House, St Margaret’s and Willowbank, Nurses Cottage, and Boathouse cottages”.

The National: ROOMS WITH A VIEW: The rear of the Kenmore Hotel overlooking the lake

DLC also said it was “fully” committed to maintaining public access routes across the Taymouth estate and that diversions in place are “due to active construction and health and safety protocols”.

DLC further outlined what planning permission it had in place and what it would seek permission for in the future.

Projects including the restoration of Taymouth Castle, the creation of a new north wing, 167 residential properties, a golf course, two spas, a restaurant, and an equestrian centre have been given planning permission, the firm said.

It added that permission would be sought for “back of house support buildings” to be located at Newhall Woods near the estate’s east lodge.

Colin Morton, a KCC spokesperson, said that campaigners were “running low on arguments”.

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"The process of collecting local people's questions has been in train for many weeks and this is evident in the minutes of our meeting with DLC on July 5,” he said.

“Because there has recently been so much ill-founded rumour making and scaremongering put about by PLT causing significant concern here we accelerated the process.”

He added: "If PLT wants ‘openness’ then it really needs to start by listening to the people who live and work in our small communities of Kenmore and Acharn, and by not expelling these people from its social media when they disagree with the group's rhetoric or make positive noises about what is happening here. Until that happens it cannot claim to represent local voices."

A DLC spokesperson said: “These claims of inadequate communication are unsubstantiated.

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“Our ongoing open dialogue with the Kenmore and District and neighbouring community councils, along with updates to the Welcome To Taymouth website (live since June 2022) and public exhibitions, demonstrate our commitment to transparent communication and community engagement through accessible channels.

“Over the past 18 months, we've engaged elected members through in-person and online briefings, along with meaningful interactions with local organisations and charities.

"We value transparent communication with the local community. Many questions have already been addressed publicly. We will provide responses for any outstanding queries soon. The website will consistently reflect the most up-to-date information.”