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East Loch Lomond camping ban passed

Informal camp near Balmaha

New laws to ban informal camping along a section of the East Loch Lomond shore will come into effect on 1 June 2011 following approval from Environment Minister, Roseanna Cunningham. Under the seasonal camping byelaws, it will be an offence to camp overnight on the east side of the Loch in an area covering 9 miles between Drymen and Rowardennan, from 1 March to the end of October every year outside designated camping sites.

Camping restrictions are just one of a number of solutions being introduced by Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park and partners to improve the quality of the area for the millions of people who visit and for the communities living on the east side of the Loch.

In order to maintain the opportunity to enjoy this unique setting, work has started on the creation of a new informal campsite, complete with composting toilets at Sallochy. The project is funded by partners on the East Loch Lomond Management Group which includes the National Park and Forestry Commission Scotland whose staff will manage the site, where visitors will be able to book pitches in advance of their stay in this beautiful area.

Improvements are also being made to Rowardennan car park at the foot of Ben Lomond, and at Balmaha pier, the local hub for water bus and ferry services. The National Park visitor centre at Balmaha will be refurbished this winter and clearer public information for road users will be put in place. This builds on existing successes in the area, such as, increased patrolling through Operation Ironworks, a multi-agency policing initiative and better traffic management.

Roseanna Cunningham said: “East Loch Lomond has come under increasing pressure from litter, campfires and anti-social behaviour over recent years which has threatened to spoil the visitor experience for the many thousands who travel to the area each year.

“Camping will still be permitted at designated caravan and camping sites and a new semi-formal camping site is being made available at Sallochy Bay, near Rowardennan.

“These measures are designed to protect and preserve the beauty of the area whilst still providing access for responsible campers.”

The Minister also praised the partnership approach adopted by the organisations involved in introducing this initiative.

Welcoming the announcement Fiona Logan, National Park CEO said: “Providing a first class experience to all visitors who come to Loch Lomond & The Trossachs is a top priority for the National Park. We want to make sure that this is a family friendly visitor destination that matches other areas of outstanding beauty across the world. We are tasked with looking after this most precious and well loved Scottish asset and as a result of the popularity of East Loch Lomond and the ill-treatment of the area from a minority of people, we have had to take this action.

“By placing informal camping restrictions in certain areas and investing heavily in the most popular visitor destinations of Rowardennan, Sallochy, Milarrochy Bay and Balmaha, we hope to achieve a balance so our visitors can enjoy their stay whilst the landscape and communities around the Loch remain protected.

“We are grateful to have the support from our Environment Minister and all our partners and look forward to the season ahead welcoming all our visitors to the National Park.”

Marker post used for firewood

Gordon Donaldson, Forestry Commission Scotland’s district manager in Cowal & Trossachs added: “For a number of years we have been working in partnership with a range of organisations to try and protect and conserve this beautiful area of Loch Lomond.

“There is increasing pressure from visitor numbers and new infrastructure developments will help manage this better. However, whilst the majority of visitors act responsibly, there are others who don’t and this continued problem has to be tackled.”

Kevin Lilburn, Director of the Buchanan Community Partnership and local resident, gave his support to the announcement: “The local community fully supports and welcomes the new camping byelaws after many years of campaigning and having to tackle innumerable incidents and issues resulting directly from informal camping. We’re delighted that the National Park has supported us in driving through a number of measures to improve the management of visitors to this area. By introducing a new, managed campsite at Sallochy Car Park, we are confident that visitors will actually enjoy a significantly enhanced informal camping experience, residents will be able to sleep peacefully in their homes, and the environment will gradually recover from past abuses.”

Chief Inspector Kevin Findlater, Central Scotland Police said: “We welcome the introduction of the new byelaw. Over the last few years we have worked closely with Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park and other partner agencies and, through Operation Ironworks, have targeted and dealt with anti-social behaviour caused by a minority of informal campers and visitors to the park who do not behave in a responsible manner.

“This work will continue and will be enhanced by the introduction of the new byelaw which will provide additional powers which will ensure visitors to this area will have an enjoyable experience.”

The National Park Ranger service will continue patrols along the east side of the Loch and will work with Central Scotland Police to monitor camping activity. Penalties for breaching these restrictions could reach a maximum of £500.

Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority held an extensive public consultation in 2010, which resulted in 60% of respondents supporting the new camping byelaw proposals. Ramblers Scotland together with Angling groups and others submitted responses against the ideas and the Ramblers have campaigned to protect the rights of walkers to camp on this section of the West Highland Way.

The National Park has issued the following facts about the camping byelaw:

Public information and new signage will be made available in the run up to the byelaws taking effect on 1 June 2011.

The restricted area includes Special Sites of Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) designation for native oak woodland.

Two commercial campsites operate in the designated zone. Milarrochy Caravan and Camping Club and Cashel Caravan Park and campsite. The sites between them provide 370 multi-use pitches for tents and caravans. The total provision in the restricted area provides more camping opportunities than any other loch side location in the National Park

The new Sallochy informal campsite will provide up to 20 pitches when at full capacity

The National Park Authority also operates camping on Inchcailloch with capacity for 12 campers.

Tents, wigwams and bivouacs (individual sleeping shelter) are not permitted at any time. Gazebos, windbreaks and sunshades will be allowed during the daytime from 7am to 7pm.

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