NEW plans to protect Scotland’s first National Park have been approved today following an extensive public consultation.
Four camping management byelaw zones will be implemented at the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park in a bid to protect its unique environment.
There will be an investment in improved camping facilities, including the creation of 300 camping places and responsible camping education.
The Authority was unanimous in its decision, which drew on the responses of hundreds of members of the public.
The plans were developed following increasing evidence that the Park is being severely degraded by relentless pressure from high volumes of campers repeatedly visiting the same popular areas.
Further damage has been caused by litter, lochshores being used as a toilet, trees being cut down for firewood, abandonment of entire campsites and summer-long unauthorised caravan encampments in laybys.
Linda McKay, convener of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority board, said: “We believe our duty first and foremost is to conserve the environment of this special place for the enjoyment of this and future generations.
“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.”
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.
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: “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 firewood.
“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.”