New anti-camping laws aimed at helping to protect the environment on the east shore of Loch Lomond have been approved yesterday by Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham.
The seasonal byelaws, which take effect on 1 June and cover the March - October period every year thereafter, will make it an offence to camp overnight on the east side of the Loch outside designated camping sites, in an area covering nine miles of wooded coastline between Drymen and Rowardennan. The area has seen ongoing problems with informal camping, which brings litter, fires and booze-fuelled antisocial behaviour throughout the summer months. However the coastline is popular with walkers too, and includes a stretch of the West Highland Way. It is not clear how the the new byelaws may affect long distance hikers.
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. The proposals were then submitted to the Scottish Government for consideration.
The restricted area includes Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) designation for native oak woodland. Tents, wigwams and bivouacs are not permitted at any time, but gazebos, windbreaks and sunshades will be allowed during the daytime from 7am to 7pm. 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.
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 National Park Authority also operates camping on Inchcailloch with capacity for 12 campers. In addition work has now started on the creation of a new informal campsite at Sallochy, complete with composting toilets, which will provide up to 20 pitches. 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.
Environment Minister 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. These measures are designed to protect and preserve the beauty of the area whilst still providing access for responsible campers.'
Welcoming the announcement Fiona Logan, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs 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.'
The byelaws will be reviewed after three years.