Lomond Banks charm offensive begins with environmental benefits pledge

Developers behind the proposed £30 million tourist destination on the banks of Loch Lomond have said that investment into the natural environment will be a key element of their plans.

Lomond Banks charm offensive begins with environmental benefits pledge

The view from Riverside

The vision for the development, which will be called Lomond Banks, is to transform Balloch into “the true gateway to Loch Lomond”.

Plans include a variety of family accommodation facilities, including a 60-bedroom apart-hotel, 32-bedroom budget accommodation, 131 self-catering units, 6 private houses and 15 apartments.

Facilities for visitors and the local community will include a craft brewery, boat house, leisure centre and restaurants, while landscape upgrades will be given to public footpaths, dog walking routes and greenspaces.

However the planning application has attracted more than 55,000 individual objections (and counting), a record number for any planning application in Scottish history.

According to Scottish Greens MSP Ross Greer, who is leading the campaign against the development, objectors are concerned by the privatisation of public space as well as a number of “devastating” revelations in the developer’s own environmental impact assessment, including the destruction of ancient woodland, deaths of otters & red squirrels and pollution to running and standing water. Balloch residents have also raised concerns about traffic congestion and the impact on local infrastructure.

Lomond Banks charm offensive begins with environmental benefits pledge

Given the huge interest, developers are keen to inform the public on the benefits set to be unlocked should planning permission be granted.

According to Andy Miller, who is director of Lomond Banks, one of the key misconceptions has been around the potential impact on the natural environment.

He said: “Loch Lomond is a national treasure and our plans seek to enhance the natural beauty of the area while attracting more people to the benefit of the local economy. Our proposals will improve biodiversity through the creation of new habitat and strengthening old habitat.

“We have put forward a woodland development management plan so that existing woodland is properly managed and wherever possible improved, improving the natural environment both for wildlife and future generations to enjoy.”

The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) states that at the time of the report, there were some signs of red squirrel and pine marten in the wider Loch Lomond landscape, however there was no evidence of red squirrel, badger or pine marten within the site boundary.

Lomond Banks charm offensive begins with environmental benefits pledge

The EIA goes on saying that while woodland and grassland present on the site offers suitable habitat for pine marten and badgers, the volume of visitors, dog walkers and general human presence in the locale has reduced the site’s suitability for these animals.

Two otter and water vole surveys were conducted along the banks of all watercourses within the site boundary, plus a buffer of approximately 250m downstream and upstream. This work showed that there were no signs of otter nor evidence of suitable habitat for water vole within the site boundary during the surveys.

Andy Miller said Lomond Banks is committed to improving the biodiversity of the area and the independent survey results found that increasing, enhancing and managing water quality and the connectivity of appropriate vegetation along watercourses could help to support future habitats within the site boundary.

He added: “Lomond Banks will be a family holiday village, and not a theme park. Attractive, sustainable woodlands are key to the overall character of the development, so retention of mature trees and their setting is essential. We want this development to be a credit to the community and to Scotland.”

The project, with an anticipated completion date of 2024, expects to bring as many as 80 full time jobs, 50 part-time jobs and to 70 seasonal posts to the area.

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