Desecrating Loch Lomond


Flamingo Land, Malton, England. Go Yorkshire! (Please go!)

Though Scot and English share a common humanity, the similarities end there. The claim Scots are British is the signature of a colonial mentality. In almost all things, language, accents, religion, the great majority of political ideals, the clan system, topography, coastline and the damn weather, man to man, we are anything but English. When they first arrive in Scotland English visitors are always surprised to perceive and acknowledge the differences they never knew existed. “So much isn’t like us!” Disparities are easily encapsulated in the bowler hat and the bonnet, in the cavalry twill and the kilt, in English good manners and Scottish straight talking.

Are we there yet?

To take an example: If you’ve rarely been out of Leeds you’ll assume Scotland is England but with less crowded roads and bigger mountains. You feel justified in holding that opinion when you see the same store chains and eateries, Sainsbury, Tesco, Lidl, Boots, Harvey Nichol, John Lewis, MacDonald’s, KFC, Wagamama.

Some commercial empires were once Scottish owned such as Frasers before it let itself go flabby and lost Harrods, powerhouses before globalisation and offshore accounts had them gobbled up by the greedy, the great international publisher Collins now owned by shapers of government policy, Murdoch, Chambers dictionary decamped to London.

Anglophiles, unable to wash their colonial mentality out of their skull, aver we are all British. Why? How did they come to that conclusion, other than taking safety in the comfortably familiar? Because England is a powerful nation that once ruled the world and we should be proud to be a part of it? We served it, sometimes governed it, but Scotland never owned a part of it.

We are not part of England, and never have been for the one thousand years of our history. Amusingly, every so often England reminds us we are a different nation. Just by ignoring us they tell us we are a separate nation.

Telling us Loch Lomond is short of a glorified theme park called Flamingo Land is really sticking it us. Why yearn to be independent again and yet the same as England?

The same but different

Scottish Enterprise purchased the land for £2 million about 20 years ago. They are now telling the public, conveniently, the current worth is just £200,000, which is the price that Flamingo land will pay. (I cannot bring myself to join flamingo with land in any context.) If Scottish Enterprise bought the land for £2 million why has its value dropped dramatically just at the point a buyer is interested in developing it?

Today we have the Cringe in neon lights: the Dundee Victoria and Albert syndrome, exhibition items taken from Scotland now ‘acquired’ by London’s V&A, loaned back to us, an entire design gallery in Scotland named ‘V&A’, unique on the outside, insipidly conventional on the inside; the National Gallery of Scotland on the capital’s Mound and its insistence on glorified Victorian decor; Trump and a strip of Aberdeenshire coastline we were told was gagging for a line of millionaire homes across the skyline. Countless gap sites in our cities filled with third-rate architecture, invariably a hotel chain, the building designed to look the same as all the others in their international portfolio.

Protect our heritage at all times

None of those culturally dissonant, visually ugly intrusions have anything to do with attaining Scotland’s independence, everything to do with diminishing it. They enforce colonial conformity and mediocrity. They block differences and variety.

Another example: New Mexico got wise to the destruction of its architectural heritage and its cultural differences from other US states. Cities don’t allow new build that is not adobe; even a gas station must fit into its surroundings without glare. It must not scream, we are an international corporation taking a dump in your land.

New Mexico has more powers than Scotland. In Scotland we burn down our outstanding buildings – twice.


Taos, New Mexico. If it’s not adobe style, it ain’t getting built

The responsibility of councils

If Flamingo Land is built, the company will be bought over in time by a bigger company with non-taxable assets in Scotland. It is inevitable. Many an enterprise is created with the sole intent of selling it off as soon as one appears on the horizon.

The economy ruled by England is obsessed with austerity. The owners of Flamingo Land bank on people not going far for a break. They want to be another Center Parcs but with non-indigenous pink birds on stilts as an African logo. Stuff yer capercaillies!

In a few years amenities will need ‘modernising’. Off will go the starting gun again promising more phantom jobs for ‘the locals’. Caution: fashions in tourist entertainment change every decade.

A council’s job is to ascertain the company’s financial stability long-term, to take due diligence of sustainability, but also to ensure the edifice does not become a blot on the landscape, a pile of corporate crap.

  1. What will a development do to the land it monopolises, in terms of visual aspects, its effect on flora and fauna habitat, sewers and sewage, and new roads?
  2. What is the development’s long tern viability: will it needed augmented facilities in a short time, or rise and fall in profitability depending of people’s surplus cash?
  3. Is it an all-year-round enterprise benefiting long-term employment or seasonal?
  4. All build developments cause massive upheaval and pollution. How can that be contained on such a sensitive site without leaving a permanent scar?

Malton, where the folk make sure Flamingo tat is kept well outside their market town


The proposed development has attracted the expected outrage and galvanised protesters. Big companies are always well prepared for dissent – from the same locals they say they wish to employ.

Hand-in-hand with Flamingo Land, Scottish Enterprise have applied for planning permission in principle to develop over 100 holiday lodges in Drumkinnon Bay, including a 60-bedroom apart-hotel, 32-bedroom budget accommodation, 131 self-catering units, six private houses and 15 apartments – a monorail and water park. 

There is an entire world famous loch adjacent for travellers to enjoy, a place of outstanding natural beauty – why in hell’s name build a water park?  

Flamingo Land has offered some token changes: the removal of a viewing tower, retaining the north beach at Drumkinnon Bay, signing up to the Scottish living wage and other changes. The usual clichés are thrown around about the development being of “economic benefit around Balloch and the Vale of Leven.” 

On meeting resistance, the owners were ready with the plastic beads and badges as gifts for the natives, offering to change the name of Flamingo Land to who knows what? Tourist Tat Land? 

The company behind concreting a large chunk of the Trossachs is Iconic Leisure Developments. Flamingo Land Limited, a private developer, is the preferred agency for the 20-hectare site, a claimed £30 million transformation of sight lines and red squirrel territory. Loch Lomond is in the Trossachs National Park.

The locals say No!

To my mind, the villains are Scottish Enterprise. Why invite tired old tat to a place of outstanding natural beauty, a bit of Blackpool rock? Surely they are not trying to turn a nature reserve into Little England?

Speaking in September 2016 following the announcement by Scottish Enterprise, Flamingo Land chief executive Gordon Gibb said, “We are excited by the prospect of creating a resort in the national park that recognises the importance and sensitivity of the site.” [My italics.]

In a letter of support for the protest campaign, the writer and broadcaster Cameron McNeish said: “It is time Scottish Enterprise walked away from this potentially disastrous agreement and consider for a moment how best they can work with the people of Balloch to develop this area in a way that will benefit them and not commercial shareholders.”

I ask the question: What are we doing to Scotland, in whose name and for what benefit? If Loch Lomond is not to remain a protected national asset, what is it to be? Desecrated?

I’ll answer: Ours! Keep it pristine, keep it in public hands!



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9 Responses to Desecrating Loch Lomond

  1. jan shields says:

    This abomination cannot be allowed to happen. Scotland’s beauty doesn’t need a monorail/brewery/waterpark ( it does have a 22 mile long Loch) and so on and so on. Also, why should I as a tax payer ac cept the paltry sum of £200000 for this piece of land which was purchased for £2M and Scottish Enrerprise is also paying for the investigative work required!!! They might have been better just saying take it we don’t want any money and if that’s the case, they should have offered it to the local community! £30M doesn’t build a “class” establishment made of wood!

  2. Grouse Beater says:

    Another mercenary entertainments company thinks exploiting Loch Lomond more profitable than slot machines, although they might be added to the resort mix later.

  3. Robin James Barclay says:

    In my view, I don’t believe anything should be built in this regard as it would ruin what is already a magnificent landscape. However, if they do wish to do something with the area, then why not do something like Landmark in Carrbridge. That is a truly wonderful place to take the family. It caters for all and is hidden away in the forest with only the viewing tower visible above the natural woodland. It contains a wildlife reserve where young children can see some of the beautiful creatures that we share our country with and gives a fun learning opportunity aswell.
    These types of things can be done, if they are done correctly. I enjoy a good theme park but we really don’t need one where there is an abundance of things to see and get involved in already.

  4. James Cormack says:

    People go to places like Loch Lomond to appreciate nature. If they want something that is similar to Blackpool, then they should go to Blackpool. The facts produced by this company have been contradictory: one month it was 300 jobs, next month it was reduced to 200 jobs. A third of the jobs have been cut at the stroke of a pen! The local council voted last Thursday, unanimously, to reject the proposal because it broke the rules of the local national Park’s plan, among other things. There was rare party unity with some of those being in favour of the plan being accused of having a vested interest due to their commercial interests. Save Loch Lomond is the F/B site to find out more.

  5. Grouse Beater says:

    Many thanks for the update, James. I concentrated on the cultural negatives knowing there was lots of local resistance, and am please to learn they rejected the proposals. Will there be fresh proposals submitted?

  6. Terence Callachan says:

    Scottish enterprise is not Scottish , it is beholden to Westminster even though it is said to be a non departmental public body of Scottish government.
    Where did Scottish enterprise get a spare £2 million to buy a bit of land ?
    why wasn’t that £2 million given to businesses in Scotland that’s what the money Scottish enterprise get is meant to be used for ?
    And how did a chunk of Scotland’s most famous national park come to be up for sale in the first place ?
    I thought the whole point of a national park was that it was protected and preserved for the benefit of the people and creatures that inhabit the land and was not ever put up for sale ?
    And why if it was put up for sale was it that the bid from Scottish enterprise won ?
    Are Scottish enterprise really expecting us to believe that there were no higher bidders ?
    It’s been a set up from the start , this land should never have been sold it’s part of a national park in Scotland.
    Who sold it to Scottish enterprise for £2 million and why ?

    Have a look at who is on the board of directors of Scottish enterprise
    Have a look at their leadership team
    Have a look at the limited history detail of their background

  7. Grouse Beater says:

    Good points: sure I point out somewhere the odd situation of land losing a ton of value just as someone wants to build on it.

  8. diabloandco says:

    How corrupt/foolish/greedy do you have to be to be to want to despoil Loch Lomond ?
    I am willing to bet if you wanted to set up an ice cream stall in a hidden away pocket of our national parks you would have to jump through extraordinary hoops so to do – but big business is allowed to put the large ,unwanted , garish grot where ever the greased palms allow.

    I am more than disgusted by the media of Scotland on so many levels ,but given their political bias not surprised , however I foolishly thought they might defend their own back yard from this kind of environmental thuggery and exploitation.

  9. Iain Hamilton says:

    There was an odd situation with the value of a parcel of land a few years ago. Somewhere between Glasgow and the Airport (whistles innocently). The net result was a large sum of money leaving the coffers of the people of Glasgow and the owner of the land now owning the money and the land.

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