In response to the press release issued by Ramblers Scotland (“Ramblers Respond to Loch Lomond Camping Strategy”) Simon Jones, Director of Conservation & Visitor Operations for Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park said:
“The Your Park Camping Development Strategy, approved by the National Park Board on Monday, sets out the camping provision that will support new camping byelaws that come into effect in the National Park on 1st March 2017. This will include the introduction of 300 low-cost camping places in new Camping Management Zones that will cover less than 4% of the National Park, through a mix of informal campsites, and camping permit areas (some with facilities). There will also be places for motorhomes to stop off overnight.
“The Strategy sets out how and where at least 300 camping places will be delivered by the time the byelaws come into operation in March, and how the Park Authority will invest further in facilities during 2017 and in subsequent years.
“Ramblers Scotland express concerns about the number of permits and pitches available and whether they will “cope with demand” for camping places on lochshores, and also suggest we are banning camping. However, I want to make it absolutely clear that the aim of these measures is to allow camping at a sustainable level, to stop the damage to the environment that is being caused by large numbers of visitors a peak times in the season – which Ramblers Scotland themselves highlight as a problem.
“The approach set out in our Camping Development Strategy will have the dual benefit of protecting the environment of our popular, fragile lochshores, and proving a better experience for everyone, including those who come to camp. We are confident that although it is new here, the camping permit system will provide the flexibility for us to balance demand with sustainability. The Strategy makes it clear that we will monitor and review the implementation of the new byelaws on an ongoing basis. Indeed, Ramblers Scotland have been invited to be part of the Stakeholder Forum which will meet regularly to keep key stakeholders informed, gather their views and provide an open line of communication between partners, stakeholders and the National Park Authority as we implement these measures.”
“It is important to highlight that the campsite and permit numbers are for the number of tent pitches available, not for the number of people who can camp – as stated by Ramblers Scotland. The capacity they will provide will be significantly higher than 229 people – depending on the capacity of the tents. Additionally, the campsites will provide 73 pitches, along with the 229 permits, providing more than 300 pitches within the Camping Management Zones.
“We have made it clear that the charge for permits will be a small, administrative fee. Almost half the camping permits available are in permit areas with services, including toilets and where possible car parking.
“Camping in most of the National Park will be completely unaffected by the byelaws, so the public will have lots of opportunity to camp outside the Camping Management Zones, as well as being able to book permits and stay in campsites within the Zones. The Camping Management Zones will cover less than 4% of the National Park in narrow strips of land along our busiest lochshores, which are easily accessible by road. These areas will include the land from the affected lochshore to the nearby road, and for approximately 200m on the other side of the road, or to the nearest visible feature such as field boundaries or tracks.
“The byelaws will apply from 1st March to 30th September each year, so responsible ‘wild camping’ across the entire Park from October to February is unaffected by the byelaws.
“In approving the measures, Ministers requested to be provided with a formal report of a review of the operation of the byelaws no later than 3 years after implementation – the same arrangements that were put in place for the East Loch Lomond Byelaws approved in 2011.”