US firm breaches planning rules for luxury resort in Scotland

A US company that is developing a luxury resort for the mega-rich in Scotland has started work on a wastewater treatment plant without planning permission, The National has learned.

Satellite images reveal unauthorized work

The Protect Loch Tay (PLT) campaign group has obtained satellite images that show that Discovery Land Company (DLC) has begun work on a “foul water treatment plant” next to Taymouth Castle, though no planning permission has been granted. The plant would include drainage to the River Tay, which is part of a Special Area of Conservation for its wildlife.

Environmental concerns raised by NatureScot

An application for the plant was submitted in October 2022, but it is still under consideration after NatureScot, the Scottish Government’s environmental body, raised concerns. NatureScot said in an intervention in January 2023 that the proposals could affect “internationally important natural heritage interests” and objected to the proposal until further information is provided. NatureScot also noted that freshwater pearl mussel populations may be in the area, and warned that a survey should be conducted to learn more.

us firm taymouth castle luxury resort scotland

Perth and Kinross Council aware of the breach

A spokesperson from Perth and Kinross Council (PKC) said they were aware of the “breach” and that a retrospective application was being considered. DLC did not respond to requests for comment. 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”.

Green MSP calls for repercussions

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.”

Campaign group vows to monitor DLC’s activities

A spokesperson for the PLT group, Rob Jamieson, 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.” He added: “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.”

DLC’s land acquisition spree in Scotland

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.

Will DLC be able to continue their development plans without facing legal consequences? Will Perth and Kinross Council take action to protect the natural heritage of Loch Tay? Will NatureScot’s objections be taken into account? These are some of the questions that remain unanswered as DLC’s activities come under scrutiny.

By Ishan Crawford

Prior to the position, Ishan was senior vice president, strategy & development for Cumbernauld-media Company since April 2013. He joined the Company in 2004 and has served in several corporate developments, business development and strategic planning roles for three chief executives. During that time, he helped transform the Company from a traditional U.S. media conglomerate into a global digital subscription service, unified by the journalism and brand of Cumbernauld-media.

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