More than 70,000 people have now signed a petition calling for Loch Lomond’s wallabies to remain on Inchconnachan Island.
However, a local councilor has said that she is skeptical of the motives behind the petition, and would support the rehoming of the wallabies if it helps restore Inchconnachan’s natural environment.
The stunning island was bought in 2020 by TV and radio presenter Kirsty Young and husband Nick Jones, who founded prestigious private members club Soho House, for a fee believed to be in excess of £1.5m.
The new owners have pledged to transform it into “a beautiful place for everyone to enjoy,” however they plan to remove wallabies that have called Inchconnachan home since being introduced by Lady Arran of Colquhoun in the 1940s.
Last month they submitted plans to Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Authority, which include a three-bedroom, two-storey timber lodge with jetty, a boat shelter and warden’s accommodation comprising provision for one bedroom, a bathroom, shower/wet room and open-plan living space.
They also plan to move the wallabies humanely to a new location as part of a plan to reduce the non-native species on the island to “zero or close to zero”, however the idea has been met with outcry from conservationists.
Marine science student Craig Morrison was prompted to start a petition to keep the wallabies on the island, which has received more than 71,000 signatures.
He said: “The wallabies have great historic, social and cultural significance, they are adored by locals and tourists alike, with many boat trips in the area having the chance of seeing the wallabies as their star attraction.”
However, Gartocharn councilor Sally Page said she would support the plans, which she hopes will restore the island to its natural beauty.
The Conservative member said: “Kirsty Young and her husband have submitted an incredibly detailed planning application for works to reverse years of nature decline on the island, much of which has been caused by anti-social human behaviour, such as bonfire lighting, breaking- off tree branches, litter and human waste.
“The control of deer and wallabies will be part of a long-term plan to restore the natural balance of nature on the island. If there is a need to reduce the number of wallabies maybe they can be transferred to a wildlife park.”
The developers also aim to demolish the ruins of the colonial-style timber bungalow built in the 1920s, creating a natural wet woodland on the site.
However, the Woodland Trust have also formally submitted an objection to the plans.
George Anderson of Woodland Trust Scotland said: “The location is covered by Site of Special Scientific Interest, Special Protection Area and Special Area of Conservation designations – and it is in a national park. If ancient woodland isn’t safe here then something is far wrong. We call on the planning authority to reject this application.”
The developers were unable to provide a comment to the Lennox prior to our deadline.