Scots broadcaster Kirsty Young faces criticism over plans to destroy ancient woodlands to create ‘world-class’ eco destination on Loch Lomond island

The Woodland Trust Scotland has lodged an objection to a planning application by the former Desert Island Discs host and spouse Nick Jones, founder of the private members’ club chain Soho House.

The couple want to knock down existing structures and create new holiday accommodation and jetties on the picturesque and ecologically important Inchconnachan island.

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The island, part of the Inchtavannach and Inchconnachan site of special scientific interest, is home to myriad native wildlife species and a population of non-native wallabies.

The uninhabited Inchconnachan island, which lies in Loch Lomond, was bought by Scottish broadcaster Kirsty Young and her husband after it was put on sale last year for more than £500,000

It also hosts remnants of ancient forest that provides important habitat for plants and animals, including nesting birds such as the critically endangered capercaillie, mammals and reptiles.

The couple has already come under fire over suggestions their plans would see a population of wallabies moved from the island.

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Now the conservation charity has written to planners calling for the project to be rejected.

Inchconnachan was once the holiday home of speedboat-racing aristocrat Fiona Gore, Countess of Arran, who introduced a population of non-native wallabies that still roam free across the island

“Ancient woodland is an irreplaceable habitat,” said Woodland Trust Scotland’s George Anderson.

“Once lost, it is gone forever.

“If ancient woodland isn’t safe here, then something is far wrong.

“We call on the planning authority to reject this application.”

The Woodland Trust Scotland is calling for plans from Kirsty Young and her husband to knock down existing structures and erect new holiday accommodation to be rejected, due to loss of ‘irreplaceable’ ancient forest

Planning documents said the couple’s “goal is to create a world-class and beautiful place for everybody to enjoy”.

The letter states: “Majorly adverse impacts would occur as a result of the removal of the ancient woodland, which contains valuable habitat, to make way for the construction of this proposal.

“We acknowledge that the applicants intend to implement an island-wide management plan to improve the condition of the ancient woodland/qualifying features on site, by removing invasive species and exotic conifer species to allow natural regeneration of native woodland flora and trees.

“The trust is generally supportive of sensitive ancient woodland management. However, we are unable to support the proposed scheme on account of the direct loss of ancient woodland to facilitate development which is not for the purposes of conservation.

“Ancient woodland is an irreplaceable habitat and therefore its loss cannot be mitigated.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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