NEW government proposals could ruin camping across Scotland according to countryside campaigners.
The Forestry Commission has faced a fierce backlash after revelations that they have suggested a “blanket ban on camping within 400 metres of a public road.”
According to camping enthusiasts, such a ban would demolish the “right to roam” law, making hikers and campers criminals.
The new proposals were revealed after a Freedom of Information (FOI) request.
The documents provided by the government revealed that the comment was made in a meeting with Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park Authority.
During the meeting bosses were discussing the park’s controversial proposal to ban camping without permission on loch shores, currently being debated by ministers.
A minute of the meeting quotes the Forestry Commission Scotland as being “keen to secure solutions which cover all situations.”
The commission also said that “the current understanding of the meaning of wild camping was poor and that car-boot camping and motorhome issues were growing across Scotland.”
The commission said it would raise more concerns over the need for “wider review of car-boot camping, and antisocial behaviour and instigation of new measures to deal with it.
“A possible suggestion for this could be a blanket ban on camping within 400 metres of a public road or recognised formal recreation facility car park.”
But Cameron McNeish, outdoor writer and broadcaster, slated the comments.
He said that the proposals were “furtively attempting to erode” Scotland’s access legislation.”
And, he said, it clearly indicated “an anti-access mindset that could have serious implications for outdoor enthusiasts and tourism through the rest of Scotland.”
Veteran outdoor campaigner Dave Morris added that the commission was undermining the government’s land reform programme.
He said: “They are trying to wind the clock back to 1865 when the Westminster parliament made camping in Scotland a criminal offence.”
Alan Stevenson, head of recreation and tourism as Forest Enterprise Scotland, insisted that the suggestion was not official policy.
He said: “The remark was a throwaway comment.
“This is neither policy, nor proposed policy and to suggest otherwise would misrepresent the position of Forest Enterprise Scotland on this issue.
“Only Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park proposals are under consideration.
“These involve improved management arrangements for camping in a small area of the park, including parts of the national forest estate, which are suffering from unacceptable visitor impacts due to high levels of use.”