A ROW has erupted after a local council sent everyone on its mailing list an opinion piece on the Taymouth Castle development written by Tory MSP Murdo Fraser.

Late on Wednesday evening, Kenmore Community Council chair Peter Ely sent Fraser’s article – headlined “Kenmore’s Local Heroes want US developer Discovery Land Company’s multi-million-pound plans to go ahead” – out to its mailing list.

He wrote simply: “Hi all. In case not seen yet. Latest press article. Scotsman.”

Ely included a link to an opinion piece from the Tory MSP, where he suggests that there could be “darker reasons” between people objecting to the proposals for Taymouth Castle.

“Some will, I fear, be motivated by the politics of envy and the dislike of the wealthy. Some of it may be motivated by xenophobia,” Fraser wrote.

It is an American firm, Discovery Land Company (DLC), which is looking to develop the estate into a holiday destination for its mega-rich clients.

Elsewhere in the world, DLC compounds have access restricted to members – who have to pay annual fees of between $37,500 and $300,000 and buy property within their walls, which comes with a multi-million-dollar price tag.

However, responding to SNP politicians Pete Wishart and John Swinney after they intervened in late July, DLC insisted that it would not be building a gated community in Scotland as it has abroad.

Writing in support of DLC's development, Fraser also used his article to dismiss a petition started by the Protect Loch Tay (PLT) group – which as The National previously reported has more than 145,000 signatures.

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The Tory MSP, who represents Mid Scotland and Fife, wrote: “The signatories to the petition, from wherever in the world, surely are not entitled to seek to override the wishes of the local community in Kenmore and its elected representatives?

“The real local heroes around Loch Tay are, in this case, those who want to see the development of Taymouth Castle proceed, with new jobs created and others sustained for the future.”

A spokesperson for the PLT group hit out at the community council for sharing Fraser’s article, alleging that no other press piece on the development had been shared in the same way.

But a Kenmore Community Council (KCC) spokesperson claimed that “bitterness, rancour and division” among local communities was created by campaigners in PLT.

The PLT group said: “For a few months now, Protect Loch Tay has been trying to argue the case for more scrutiny and concrete assurances regarding DLC's development of Taymouth Estate and the surrounding area – an issue we believe involves everybody, including locals, visitors, business owners, and those who live around this entire area. Or as John Swinney stated, an issue which affects Scotland.

The National: John Swinney

Former deputy first minister Swinney intervened in the row earlier this year

“We're extremely disappointed that KCC, an organisation intended to represent every member of the community, remaining non-political and impartial, has chosen to polarise the issue by using its mailing list to publicise an explicitly pro-DLC opinion article.”

PLT noted that the front page of the council’s website now also includes a link to Fraser’s article.

The spokesperson added: “As we continue trying to get the answers this community so badly needs, we can do nothing but express our dismay that these councillors have decided to so definitively draw dividing lines between their constituents, as well as the people who care so much about Loch Tay and the environs around it.”

A KCC spokesperson said: "Clearly the organisers of PLT do not recognise the bitterness, rancour and division they have created among the local communities here.

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“It's astonishing that they should now also set their sights on our voluntary community councils. Our community council is not against democratic debate in any way. Quite the opposite.

“For that reason, we did not respond to the campaign in its early days and instead stood back and listened to what we hoped would be open, honest and responsible debate. But the rhetoric has now gone well beyond that.”

They added: "As far as I am aware, none of the campaign organisers has ever attended any of our community council meetings where this development has been discussed over the past year or so.

“Whether they voiced their concerns to their own councils we do not know but had they done so in a democratic way their fears and concerns might have been averted and we all might be in a very different, friendlier and more positive place today."