27 April 2015
The board of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority has today (27.04.15) unanimously approved comprehensive plans to protect the Park’s unique environment following an extensive public consultation, which received more than 300 responses.
The recommendations from officers at the National Park Authority approved by their board include the creation of four camping management byelaw zones on its busiest lochshores, covering 3.7% of the Park’ total area, and investment in improved camping facilities. It is proposed that this will see the creation of 300 camping places, through a mixture of camping permits and low-cost campsites, in the first year in which the new byelaws would be operating. This is in addition to a continued focus on education around responsible camping and promotion of the access and recreation opportunities throughout the Park.
Linda McKay, convener of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority board, said:
“The Board was unanimous in its decision.
“The consultation showed tremendous support for the proposals at both a local and national level including from all our community councils and constituent local authorities, as well as national agencies concerned for the protection of the National Park’s sensitive environment.
“We appreciate the range of views from many different interests. However, on balance, we believe our duty first and foremost is to conserve the environment of this special place for the enjoyment of this and future generations.
“Conscious of our responsibility to promote access and recreation in the Park, the Board has sought to take a proportionate approach; introducing a range of measures designed to protect the special characteristics of this designated area of Scotland, while also striving to enhance provision for those who will continue to want to camp. We hope these new proposals show just how far we have travelled from the original position.
“Our proposals build on the success of wide-ranging measures introduced at east Loch Lomond and if we are successful in seeking Scottish Government approval for these new steps, we feel absolutely confident we can provide an outstanding National Park experience for all.”
The plans were developed following increasing evidence that the Park is being severely degraded by the relentless pressure from high volumes of campers repeatedly visiting the same popular areas giving these fragile areas no time to recover. Further damage has been caused by the irresponsible behaviour of some visitors, including littering, lochshores being used as a toilet, trees being cut down for firewood, abandonment of entire campsites and summer-long unauthorised caravan encampments in laybys.
During the recent Your Park consultation, key delivery partners Police Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage and Forestry Commission Scotland all responded positively in support of the proposals and provided constructive feedback that helped improve the final recommendations.
Iain Rennick, Scottish Natural Heritage area manager, said:
“We’ve been working closely with the Park Authority as their proposals have developed. Together, we’re keen to protect the interests and rights of those who wish to exercise responsible access in the Park as well as those who live and work there. We agree that a new approach is needed in tackling some of the visitor management issues in the Park, and that this needs to involve a mix of existing and new measures. We particularly welcome the intention to invest in new camping facilities, as this will ensure that the high demand at peak periods is catered for and a better overall visitor experience is provided.”
Ian McEachern Convener of Luss & Arden Community Council said:
“As a resident of Luss who has to endure antisocial behaviour from large groups of campers every summer, I was delighted with the National Park’s proposal to managing camping on West Loch Lomond.
“As part of our response to the Your Park consultation, Luss & Arden Community Council conducted a survey of all residents in the area. Of the 110 written responses, 95% supported the proposals.
“Without a byelaw to manage camping, Police are only able to act after antisocial behaviour occurs and they are limited in what they can arrest for. By the time they are contacted and able to respond, which is generally late on a Friday or Saturday night, the troublemakers are likely to be so intoxicated that they cannot be moved for their own safety. At times this has meant these campers continue to disturb residents and to damage property for the remainder of the night.
“As a community, we feel the proposed byelaws are essential and that they cannot come soon enough.”
Richard Graham, local business owner and member of St Fillans Community Council, added:
“I fully support the Park Authority’s proposals, which will bring great benefits 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.”
Having been approved by the Board today, the National Park Authority will immediately begin the confirmation process where Scottish Government ministers are asked for approval. This involves a further 30-day notification period where the National Park Authority must give the public notice of its intention to apply to Scottish Ministers for their approval. Interested parties will have one month from the notice to make representations to the Scottish Government if they have objections.