Next week, the Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority Board will consider recommendations to protect the Park’s unique environment after a wide-ranging public consultation exercise received over 300 responses.
The outline ‘Your Park’ proposals announced last year aimed to address the long-term need to safeguard the fragile environment from damaging camping. During the 12-week consultation, the Park Authority also sought views on plans to invest in significantly improved facilities to reduce pressure on specific ‘honey-pot’ locations.
In his report to the Board, Gordon Watson, chief executive of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority, said:
“Among the many magnificent landscapes in the National Park, the lochs and loch shores stand out as perhaps our most distinctive and memorable natural attractions and, therefore, deserve particular attention and care. These proposals recognise our responsibility to promote access and recreation in the Park, and take a measured and proportionate approach designed to protect the lochshore environments under threat, while delivering enhanced camping provision.”
“These recommendations build on the significant success of the balanced package of measures to tackle the same issues on east Loch Lomond since 2011, as well as years of evidence gathered from Ranger patrols and from Operation Ironworks with Police Scotland.”
The core elements of the updated proposals include the creation of four byelaw zones, covering 3.7% of the Park’s total area, a commitment to invest public money in better facilities which will provide 300 camping places through a mixture of camping permits and low-cost campsites, continued education around responsible camping and promotion of access and recreation opportunities throughout the Park.
The proposals were developed following increasing evidence that the natural beauty of the Park is being severely degraded by the relentless pressure from high volumes of campers visiting the same popular areas every summer – allowing no time for these fragile areas to recover. In addition, further damage is being caused by irresponsible behaviour of some visitors, this includes littering, using lochshores as a toilet, felling trees for firewood, abandonment of entire campsites and summer-long, unauthorised caravan encampments in laybys with no facilities. All of which has a detrimental impact on local tourism economy.
Mr Watson also said:
“With its easy-to-reach lochshores amongst high mountains and along wooded banks, the National Park has some of the best places to pitch a tent in Scotland. However, these spectacular areas can no longer withstand the unmanaged camping activity and further action is required. These proposals seek to achieve the better conservation and protection of our busiest and most heavily used loch shores which experience significant damage and degradation from unmanaged camping every summer.”
East Loch Lomond is an area where the environment, businesses and residents previously suffered the impact of the sheer volume of camping in the area and the irresponsible behaviour of some. In 2011, the Authority and its partners introduced wide-ranging measures including successful, new camping facilities and byelaws to manage camping pressures. This combination has transformed the area, with families returning and businesses expanding, all of which helped reduce antisocial behaviour by 81%.¹
During the recent Your Park camping consultation, key delivery partners Police Scotland, Forestry Commission Scotland and SNH all responded positively in support of the proposals and provided constructive feedback that helped improve the final recommendations.
When the consultation on the proposals was announced Davie Flynn, Chief Superintendent, Police Scotland, said:
“We have enjoyed a longstanding positive relationship with Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park including the coordinated, successful approach we have been taking to tackle antisocial behaviour crimes, vandalism and littering at east Loch Lomond.
“Police Scotland is generally supportive of the introduction of a byelaw replicating the purpose and spirit of the existing east Loch Lomond byelaw in other parts of the National Park where visitor pressure, crime and antisocial behaviour is affecting safety, quality of life and the environment. This support extends only when implemented as part of a suite of wider measures such as those introduced from 2011 in east Loch Lomond.”
Gordon Donaldson, Forestry Commission Scotland’s District Manager in the area, said:
“We are happy to support the National Park Authority in its efforts to improve the experience for visitors and reduce the disturbance to local communities and to the environment.
“As the largest single land manager, welcoming visitors to Scotland’s national forest estate is a big part of what we are about and we know very well how high visitor numbers, as well as the irresponsible behaviour of a minority of visitors, can impact the environment and local communities.
“Dealing with these issues in the long term requires a collaborative, adequately resourced and affordable approach and for our part, we will provide agreed sites on the Estate that the Authority can then develop and manage.”
Richard Graham, local business owner and member of St Fillans Community Council, said:
“I fully support the Park Authority’s proposals, which will bring great benefit to the Park. It is quite clear when you look at the transformation at East Loch Lomond, that the legislation works. People who come to enjoy themselves and use the Park for the numerous activities available here, have nothing to fear from these changes. Quite the reverse, these changes mean that visitors will be able to have a significantly better experience.”
“It’s heart-breaking to see the damage being done to such a beautiful area, the rubbish being left here and the constant antisocial behaviour. I know of visitors who’ve been coming for years who now say publicly that they won’t return. You rarely see kids paddling in the water because of the broken glass and cans that have been dumped and the septic toilets which have been emptied into the Loch and surrounding fields. Even in the last few weeks I have again heard people using chainsaws to cut down live trees for fire wood.”
“My hope is that the Park Authority’s proposals go ahead so that changes can be made to help return this beautiful place to the world-class National Park that it should be and that it once was. There’s room in the National Park for everyone to enjoy everything it has to offer, it just needs to be treated with the respect it deserves, both for this and future generations.”
Kim Proven, chair of Loch Earn Tourism Initiative (LETI) said:
“The members of the Loch Earn Tourism Initiative are committed to improving the experience of those visiting the Park. Our guests ask us for recommendations like where to fish or have a picnic and we want to be able to confidently send them to areas that show off the best of the Park and currently many of these are blighted by litter or trees that have been chopped down.
“Repeat business is essential in tourism so I am right behind the Park Authority’s aims to bring in changes which will help keep this special place beautiful so that everyone can enjoy it. Our local economy relies on tourism from both day trippers and those coming from further afield, so we want them to have an outstanding experience that is fitting of a National Park.”
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Issued on behalf of The Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority by The BIG Partnership
For further information, contact:
T: 0141 333 9585 M: 0788 2152914
T: 0141 333 9585 M: 07525 592825