Yesterday we reported concerns about a plan to control wild camping in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park (see here). Campaigners have questioned the capacity of the strategy to meet demand, with some even suggesting that the effect of the plan would be to "cleanse" the park of campers and camper van users.
To meet such criticism, and specifically in resonse to objections raised by Ramblers Scotland, the National Park Authority has issued the following statement. Will it be enough to reassure sceptics?
“Ramblers Scotland express concerns about the number of permits and pitches available and whether they will “cope with demand” for camping places on lochshores, and also suggest we are banning camping" said Simon Jones, Director of Conservation & Visitor Operations for Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park.
"However, I want to make it absolutely clear that the aim of these measures is to allow camping at a sustainable level, to stop the damage to the environment that is being caused by large numbers of visitors a peak times in the season – which Ramblers Scotland themselves highlight as a problem."
“The approach set out in our Camping Development Strategy will have the dual benefit of protecting the environment of our popular, fragile lochshores, and proving a better experience for everyone, including those who come to camp. We are confident that although it is new here, the camping permit system will provide the flexibility for us to balance demand with sustainability. The Strategy makes it clear that we will monitor and review the implementation of the new byelaws on an ongoing basis. Indeed, Ramblers Scotland have been invited to be part of the Stakeholder Forum which will meet regularly to keep key stakeholders informed, gather their views and provide an open line of communication between partners, stakeholders and the National Park Authority as we implement these measures.”
“It is important to highlight that the campsite and permit numbers are for the number of tent pitches available, not for the number of people who can camp - as stated by Ramblers Scotland. The capacity they will provide will be significantly higher than 229 people – depending on the capacity of the tents. Additionally, the campsites will provide 73 pitches, along with the 229 permits, providing more than 300 pitches within the Camping Management Zones."
“We have made it clear that the charge for permits will be a small, administrative fee. Almost half the camping permits available are in permit areas with services, including toilets and where possible car parking."
“Camping in most of the National Park will be completely unaffected by the byelaws, so the public will have lots of opportunity to camp outside the Camping Management Zones, as well as being able to book permits and stay in campsites within the Zones. The Camping Management Zones will cover less than 4% of the National Park in narrow strips of land along our busiest lochshores, which are easily accessible by road. These areas will include the land from the affected lochshore to the nearby road, and for approximately 200m on the other side of the road, or to the nearest visible feature such as field boundaries or tracks."
“The byelaws will apply from 1st March to 30th September each year, so responsible ‘wild camping’ across the entire Park from October to February is unaffected by the byelaws."
“In approving the measures, Ministers requested to be provided with a formal report of a review of the operation of the byelaws no later than 3 years after implementation – the same arrangements that were put in place for the East Loch Lomond Byelaws approved in 2011.”
So how will the camping ban and management plan work? The National Park Authority have sent us a 'frequently asked questions' style explanation:
1. Why are these camping byelaws being introduced?
Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park is visited by over 4 million people every year. The sheer number of visitors to our most easily accessible, popular lochshore areas, combined with impacts from antisocial behaviour, is causing significant damage to both the environment and to the local communities whose local economies rely heavily on tourism.
The plans were approved by Scottish Ministers in January 2016. They will help us to both protect these parts of the National Park from environmental damage and vastly improve the experience for visitors, including for those who come to camp.
2. What do the camping byelaws cover?
Where you can camp within designated Camping Management Zones (see map attached).
Irresponsible fire-lighting, including damaging firewood collection.
3. When do these camping byelaws come into force?
From the 1st March 2017 the new byelaws will take effect in an area covering less than 4% of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park. The byelaws will enable the Park Authority to manage camping in the National Park in a sustainable way that protects the environment and enhances the experience for visitors, including those who come to camp. The byelaws will apply each year from 1st March to 30th September.
4. Can I still camp and ‘wild camp’ in the National Park?
Yes. The byelaws cover less than 4% of the National Park’s 720 square miles, so camping in most of the National Park is not affected by these byelaws. Camping will still be allowed within the Camping Management Zones at campsites or by obtaining a camping permit for ‘wild camping.’
Responsible ‘wild camping’ outside the Camping Management Zones is unaffected by the byelaws. Camping across the entire Park from October to February is unaffected by the byelaws.
5. How will the camping byelaws work?
The byelaws will create Camping Management Zones around our busiest lochshores, which are easily accessible by road. These Zones will include the land from the affected lochshore to the nearby road, and for approximately 200m on the other side of the road, or to the nearest visible feature such as field boundaries or tracks.
Within these Zones, from March to September, camping will be allowed within certain areas by booking a campsite pitch or by obtaining a camping permit. This will allow the National Park Authority to manage the volume of people camping and where they camp, helping to prevent overuse and damage to these popular lochshore areas.
6. What area is covered by these camping byelaws?
The camping byelaws affect less than 4% of the National Park. The four Camping Management Zones will be along narrow strips of lochshores in:
► West Loch Lomond
► Trossachs North
► East Loch Lomond
► Trossachs West
7. How and where can I camp in a Camping Management Zone?
We have committed to provide at least 300 low-cost camping places through:
Your Park campsites - informal campsites, with bookable pitches and parking.
Permit areas (some with basic facilities) - defined areas where you can ‘wild camp’ with a permit.
There will also be places for motorhomes to stop off overnight in the Camping Management Zones.
8. Where will the Your Park campsites be?
The National Park has informal camping facilities at the campsite next to The Cabin at Loch Lubnaig, and Forestry Commission Scotland’s Sallochy campsite on East Loch Lomond. A new campsite is being set up at Loch Chon in the Trossachs West Camping Management Zone, in time for 1st March 2017. Like the sites at Sallochy and Loch Lubnaig, the Loch Chon site will offer informal, low cost camping in a picturesque location. There is a small SYHA-run campsite at Rowardennan on East Loch Lomond.
9. What will Your Park campsites be like?
These campsites provide opportunities for visitors looking for an informal camping experience, with basic facilities like fresh water, toilets and parking available. Pitches are clearly marked out and can be pre-booked online, and via local retailers. Each pitch comes with a pre-booked car parking space.
10. How will the camping permits work?
Camping in a permit area is ideal for those who prefer to have a ‘wild camping’ experience, as described in the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.
A number of permits will be allocated for camping in defined areas within the Camping Management Zones.
People will be able to obtain camping permits online and at local outlets.
These permit areas will have no formal facilities, offering a way to provide camping at sustainable levels in popular areas within a Camping Management Zone.
Permit areas will provide the opportunity to enjoy the National Park’s popular lochshores as a short stay (i.e. while hiking) or while enjoying a recreational activity (such as fishing).
11. What are permit areas with services?
In permit areas with services there will be toilet facilities and – in some locations but not all – limited parking facilities. These permit areas are in locations where there are higher numbers of permits available, so providing basic facilities will help make camping sustainable. Some permit areas have also been located where there are already existing toilet and parking facilities close by (e.g. Inveruglas and Firkin Point on the A82 in the West Loch Lomond Camping Management Zone).
12. Where can I go in Camping Management Zones with a motorhome?
Certain sites within the Camping Management Zones are well suited to providing places for visitors in motorhomes to stop overnight. There are both campsite locations and permit areas within the Trossachs North and West Loch Lomond Camping Management Zones, with suitable off-road locations to accommodate motorhomes. (See map attached for detail.)
13. How much will camping permits cost?
In return for a small administrative fee, the camping permit will provide a temporary exemption from the byelaws allowing ‘wild camping’ up to a maximum number in defined permit areas within the Camping Management Zones.
14. Can organised groups camp in the Camping Management Zones?
Yes. Organised groups such as Duke of Edinburgh, Scouts, youth organisations etc. who wish to camp in a Camping Management Zone can apply online for permission. There is no charge for these pre-booked groups to camp in a Camping Management Zone.
15. How will the experience of visitors be improved, including campers?
Improving access, for both day visitors and for overnight campers, to areas which are currently ‘no go’ zones.
More attractive lochshores providing for a range of outdoor recreation activities such as swimming, kayaking and fishing.
Our ‘Respect Your Park’ campaign encourages people who visit to take care of the National Park. The campaign, which is supported by Forestry Commission Scotland and Police Scotland, focuses on litter and responsible camping, and includes messages on noise, safe fires, toileting in the wild, fishing, and safe driving.
To help tackle littering and fly-tipping our Rangers can now issue Fixed Penalty Notices which carry a minimum fine of £80 for littering and £200 for fly-tipping. We only want to use these powers as a measure of last resort. Our aim is to educate the public and encourage them to enjoy and look after the Park.
16. Can landowners, businesses or communities get involved in providing new camping facilities?
Yes. We are keen to encourage more camping facilities in and around the Camping Management Zones.
Any interested landowners, businesses or community organisations keen to get involved should contact: firstname.lastname@example.org