The board of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority has today approved plans including a large extension to the current East Lochlomondside summer wild camping ban. The plans which received more than 300 responses from the public, including objections from Ramblers Scotland and the Mountaineering Council of Scotland, will now go to the Scottish Government for a final decision by a minister. If approved, the National Park hopes to bring in the new rules in time for the summer of 2016.
The Park Authority say the recommendations, approved by their board, include the creation of four camping management byelaw zones on its busiest lochshores 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 put forward following chronic problems with litter and anti-social behaviour which many local residents and business owners were saying was blighting the areas concerned and needed to be tackled. The Park proposals are controversial with some respondents saying that existing legal measures needed to be enforced. Walkers and wild campers’ representatives raised concerns that responsible campers could be criminalised as a result and that the anti-social behaviour could be pushed into neighbouring areas such as Glen Etive. Cameron McNeish set out his views against the proposals in this article published by Walkhighlands.
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.