As the MP for West Dunbartonshire, I’m very proud to represent the gateway to Scotland’s most famous National Park. Visitors from all over the world come here to enjoy the outstanding natural beauty of Loch Lomond and we benefit greatly from having this on our doorstep.
There has been much said about Flamingo Land’s proposal to build a holiday resort at Drumkinnon Woods in Balloch. More than 55,000 people have signed a petition against it, demonstrating the strength of feeling about this development.
Whilst I’m open-minded about the potential for improvements to the site in Balloch, I am clear that I will not support anything detrimental to historic public access to the banks of Loch Lomond.
Back in June last year I submitted a formal objection to the initial planning application. And having since met with representatives of Flamingo Land, I remain unconvinced by the proposed development as it stands.
I have a number of concerns about the Lomond Bank proposal, including the loss of local ancient woodland and its impact on the local road network. These are concerns which have been echoed by groups such as Ramblers Scotland and the Woodland Trust.
West Dunbartonshire Council has also now confirmed that it will formally object to the plans after councillors unanimously backed SNP leader Jonathan McColl’s motion to oppose what is being billed as the least popular planning application ever.
As an MP at the House of Commons I have no direct say on whether the development goes ahead. That is a decision for the National Park Authority, but I think there is clearly cross-party opposition to the proposal and it’s vital now that the concerns of local residents are listened to and taken seriously.
Meanwhile, events at Westminster continue to be dominated by the race for No. 10. And it’s been a difficult time for the family of Dumbarton man Jagtar Singh Johal as they marked 600 days since Jaggi’s arbitrary detention and alleged torture in India.
Both contenders in the Tory leadership race have been Foreign Secretary during that time, and Boris Johnson in particular showed shameful indifference to Jagtar’s plight at the time of his arrest.
Regardless of whoever takes over as PM, I will be pressing them to ensure the best possible support for Jaggi’s family from the UK government as they continue their fight to prove his innocence and bring him home to Dumbarton.
This article appeared in the Dumbarton & Vale of Leven Reporter on 16 July 2019.