THE US firm developing Taymouth Castle into a luxury resort for the mega-rich has breached planning rules, The National can reveal.

Satellite images obtained by the Protect Loch Tay (PLT) campaign group show that Discovery Land Company (DLC) has begun work on a “foul water treatment plant” next to the castle, though no planning permission has been granted.

An application for the plant, which includes drainage to the River Tay, was submitted in October 2022. But it is still under consideration after the Scottish Government’s environmental body raised concerns.

NatureScot said in an intervention in January 2023: “These proposals could affect internationally important natural heritage interests, we therefore object to this proposal until further information is provided.”

READ MORE: 'Action must match words': SNP meet US firm behind contentious Taymouth development

The agency went on: “The proposed development lies adjacent to the River Tay, part of the River Tay SAC [Special Area of Conservation], designated for its populations of Atlantic salmon, sea, river and brook lamprey species and otter and clearwater lochs.”

NatureScot also noted that freshwater pearl mussel populations may be in the area, and warned that a survey should be conducted to learn more.

It added: “If this application is approved without consideration of this information, an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981), as amended, may occur.”

NatureScot said that it was the duty of Perth and Kinross Council (PKC), as the competent authority, to “carry out an appropriate assessment in view of the site’s conservation objectives”. It further offered to carry out an appraisal to help inform that assessment.

But despite the ongoing environmental concerns, satellite images obtained by the PLT group and dated April 2023 show the work has already begun.

The National: A map showing where planning permission has been sought, and a satellite image showing work underwayA map showing where planning permission has been sought, and a satellite image showing work underway (Image: PLT)

The pictures show a pit has been dug and a structure built on the area where the planning application is seeking permission to erect one, and also seems to show drainage towards the River Tay under construction.

A spokesperson from PKC said they were aware of the “breach” and that a retrospective application was being considered.

DLC did not respond to requests for comment.

READ MORE: How plans for Taymouth Castle echo history of clearances and fake fantasy

A spokesperson for the firm previously insisted that “every aspect of the Taymouth Estate is being designed in a way that restores and preserves the environment”.

In July, The National reported on an investigation into an “alleged unauthorised development” on the Glenlyon Estate, which DLC also own.

Green MSP Mark Ruskell, who represents Mid Scotland and Fife, said: “This exclusive development for the rich continues to cause a huge amount of concern, with a lack of transparency and accountability. To hear that planning rules may have been ignored adds further concern.

“If these accusations are accurate then DLC must halt immediately and face repercussions. It's time for Perth and Kinross Council to stand up and enforce clear rules."

The National:

A spokesperson for the PLT group, Rob Jamieson (above), said: “Somebody asked me on Sunday if I was looking forward to a rest in the coming months when the tourists are gone. No, I said, I'm looking forward to having more free time to monitor what DLC are up to, and trying to ensure they follow the rules and laws of Scotland as they trash the environment around Kenmore.

"They laughed and said ‘surely Perth and Kinross Council, the Scottish Government and other bodies are there to police that?’.

“Now there's the very thing, that's what people really believe. Unfortunately, today that's not the case, with years of budget cuts to the Scottish purse by Westminster, these organisations are totally underfunded, understaffed, and sometimes overwhelmed.

“This is why my and other folks’ downtime this winter will not be spent relaxing after a hectic summer of continuous seven-day weeks, but will in fact be spent keeping an eye on DLC.

“Because without the public keeping a close eye, things like the freshwater pearl mussel beds, the magnificent woodland habitat, historic landmarks, and anything else that get in the way of DLC’s business model to maximise profit, these things will be lost to future generations.”

READ MORE: 'Strengthen land reform' call after US developer buys up more Scottish land

A PKC spokesperson said: “Planning application 22/01882/FLL is under consideration at this time and the planning authority is aware of the works which have been undertaken which are a breach of planning control.

“However, a planning application has been received which seeks to regularise the situation and this is currently being considered. Dialogue is ongoing with the developer regarding this.”

DLC have been buying up vast swathes of land around Loch Tay’s eastern end, including in Kenmore village and towards Aberfeldy, as part of the planned development of a luxury resort aimed at the mega-rich.

The firm currently owns Taymouth Castle estate, the neighbouring Glenlyon Estate, Moness Resort, Kenmore Hotel, Kenmore post office and shop, Taymouth Trading, Brae Cottages, Am Fasgadh and Gatehouse, Paper Boat, Police House, and the Boathouse cottages, among other properties.

They also operate some 35 other exclusive resorts across the world, where law breaches have been reported and deep concerns raised about the environmental impact.