As reported last week on UKH, the Board of the Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority has met to consider anti-camping bylaws in easily accessed parts of the park that have been suffering the effects of booze-fuelled camping, from fires and tree felling to litter and all night disturbances. They have unanimously agreed to press ahead with the proposal.
The recommendations approved today centre on the creation of four management zones in which the bylaws would have effect, amounting to 3.7% of the Park’s area and including the road-accessible shorelines of most of the major lochs (see the map we published last week). This stick approach would be combined with a carrot in the form of 'improved' camping facilities that would create 300 camping places in the first year, through what the park is calling 'a mixture of camping permits and low-cost campsites'.
It's a regime that the Park says has already worked well on the east shore of loch Lomond, where bylaws have operated for some years. However opponents of the idea remain unconvinced, pointing out that it penalises responsible campers as much as the anti social litter louts; that it undermines Scotland's hard-won access rights; and that in any case it merely pushes the problem onto someone else's turf rather than actually solving it.
Undeterred by these concerns, Linda McKay, convener of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority board, said:
'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.'
So what happens next?
The National Park Authority now needs to apply to ministers in the Scottish Government to approve the bylaws, with a view to them coming into effect for next year's summer season. Once they've done so the Authority has to give the public notice of its intentions; interested parties then have one month from the notice to make representations of their own to the Scottish Government.