Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park has launched a public consultation on byelaws to protect the environment. Up for consideration is a proposal to extend the new seasonal camping ban from the east shore of the loch to a group of nearby islands, where informal camping is leading to damage, nuisance behaviour and litter. Has the shoreline camping ban (reported here on UKH) simply displaced such problems elsewhere, or would further restrictions be a good thing? You can have your say.
The consultation will run from today until 18 June.
The National Park Authority considers the existing byelaws to be working well to maintain safety on the loch and to protect the natural environment. However they are proposing potential changes to the management of visitors on four of Loch Lomond's islands, Inchmoan, Inchconnachan, Inchtavannach and Inchcruin. These Special Protection Areas contain precious habitats and species such as capercaillie, osprey and otters.
The consultation aims to encourage respondents to consider the future of the islands and how best to safeguard them as important areas for conservation and wildlife as well as recreation. It includes three potential options about how best to tackle the issues of wildlife disturbance, litter, vandalism, irresponsible camping and fire lighting.
- Option 1, continue with the current approach where park rangers patrol the islands with police support. This would run alongside further education campaigns about behaving responsibly on the islands.
- Option 2, provide camping facilties such as toilets and fire pits on certain islands but not legally enforce their use (and just hope nuisance campers would gravitate to them? Ed.).
- Option 3, provide the same facilities on certain islands and then restrict camping away from designated camping areas as per the seasonal camping ban now in force on the east shore of the loch between Drymen and Rowardennan.
Speaking about the consultation, Grant Moir, Director of Conservation and Visitor Experience said:
'The byelaws are in general working very well on the Loch and this review is seeking to improve safety measures and tackle issues on the Loch Lomond islands. We have some of Scotland's most precious species and habitats here and sadly some visitors continue to behave irresponsibly which clearly has a lasting impact on nature and also the experience of other visitors to the islands.'
'Through the consultation, we're asking people what else can be done to secure the future of these wonderful islands, how best to provide a place they can enjoy safely whilst protecting precious habitats and species.'
'I would encourage people to comment on these options as part of the consultation.'
Quick to do just that, Ramblers Scotland have voiced concerns and say they'll oppose any camping restrictions on the islands.
Speaking to the BBC, Director Dave Morris said:
'We would have concerns about that because we've not yet seen an analysis of how the by-laws have been working so far. The problem is, when they introduced the camping ban they also banned alcohol at the same time, so it's difficult to work out what's been the most effective. The national park were supposed to produce a report on the by-laws in February, but they've failed to do that.'
'We've seen displacement caused by the [current shoreline] by-laws on Conic Hill - where there have never been problems before' he added.
The consultation can be accessed via the National Park website