ALMOST 100,000 people and organisations have opposed plans to develop a resort on the banks of Loch Lomond – more than the total number of people who live in the council area in which it sits.

The huge figure then comes from a petition run by the Scottish Greens, who have collected around 95,000 signatures opposing Flamingo Land’s application for a development on the shores of Loch Lomond, in West Dunbartonshire.

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However, Lomond Banks, the firm through which Flamingo Land is moving its application, has disputed the petition, saying it “cannot be validated” and that they have been encouraged by positive feedback from “key stakeholders, local businesses and members of the local community alike”.

West Dunbartonshire Council itself has sat on the fence. In April, the Labour-run authority refused to either approve or object to the application, which will be decided by the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Authority.

As the controversy rolls on, The National visited Balloch, the town at the centre of the application for up to 104 lodges, 372 parking spaces, two hotels, a waterpark and even a monorail, to find out what locals are thinking.

Several messages were near unanimous: The traffic is bad enough as it is, there is too little tourism infrastructure in place for people who already visit the area, and the last thing Balloch needs is a monorail.

In fact, the vast majority of people The National asked were opposed to the development.

The Lomond Shores complex is in the centre of the planned Flamingo Land site (Image: Xander Elliards)

Concerns were often raised that the Lomond Shores complex, which is in Balloch and would be somewhere in the middle of the proposed new resort, is not even full – so which businesses would look to move into newly built spaces?

Others questioned where local people could go if the central green area which they currently use to picnic, walk dogs, play, or exercise has more than 100 lodges built on it.

However, one person – one of only a handful of locals who expressed support for the development – said she believed many people were opposed to the plans because they did not understand what was being proposed.

She said people heard “Flamingo Land” and resisted the application believing that a full-size themepark was being planned for the banks of the loch.

Ironically, that did also seem to be true for some people who support the development.

The National was told on two occasions that a large-scale resort like the Flamingo Land in England would be great for the area, with one person saying they would love to have a flock of flamingos on site.

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But opposition might not be quite such a majority position if the sweeping development had been broken up into smaller parts.

While not one person expressed any support for a monorail – in fact, many expressed disbelief – other aspects of the Flamingo Land application seemed to enjoy popular backing across the board.

For example, everyone agreed that the A82 Stoneymollan roundabout needs improvements to combat the frequent and serious congestion which it already sees, serving as a main connecting road between the central belt and Highlands.

The old Woodbank Hotel in Balloch now stands as a ruin (Image: Xander Elliards)

And there were no objections to breathing new life into the old Woodbank Hotel, which ran as a luxury establishment from the 1930s to 1980s but now stands as a ruin.

Ultimately, there was a clear appetite for investment in Balloch, and a recognition – even pride – in the area being such a huge tourist draw.

But there are concerns that the investment as planned may not bring tangible benefits to the local area, and may even negatively impact on small businesses if future resort-goers choose not to venture beyond its borders.

For many people, the positives of development do exist. However, they are at present outweighed by the negatives – and so doomed to be opposed all the same.