LEGISLATION designed to curb anti-social behaviour at one of Scotland’s most famous tourist destinations has been declared a success after newly released figures showed a huge downturn in incidents around Loch Lomond in the first full season since it was introduced.
Management at the Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority (LLTNPA) have long debated how best to minimise the impact of a minority of visitors who lay waste to the area’s natural beauty.
But since ratifying new bylaws designed to clamp down on such behaviour, the authority has recorded a significant reduction in the number of incidents, saying it has allowed ordinary families to enjoy the “peace and tranquillity” of the Bonnie Banks.
However, the Loch Lomond Association stressed that the successful clampdown has only served to disperse problems elsewhere in the park’s sprawling environs, and accused the LLTNPA of driving away boat-users.
Charged with encouraging visitors into the area, yet also sustainably managing the landscape, Scotland’s first national park has long been plagued by the dual problems of wild camping and litter since it came into being ten years ago, courtesy of a Scottish Parliament act.
The problem proved particularly pronounced on the eastern shores of the loch, which prove especially popular during peak times of the year, with anti-social activity and vandalism plaguing communities such as Balmaha and Rowardennan.
Irresponsible visitors routinely left behind mounds of rubbish and abandoned tents, with some groups using chainsaws to cut down trees for firewood in the protected national park.
However, following the introduction of the bylaws last June, the situation has improved dramatically. The LLTNPA found that while its rangers collected 803 bags of litter in 2010’s summer season, the amount of debris left around the park’s designated bylaws area filled just 13 bags this year – a 98.4 per cent reduction.
Similarly, whereas two years ago there were 1,106 incidents of wild camping – where people set up their tents outside designated campsites – the number had plummeted to 16 for June and July of 2012 – a fall of 98.6 per cent.
Fiona Logan, chief executive officer of the LLTNPA, said: “The transformation of east Loch Lomond continues to be a success and, as our figures show, since the camping bylaws were introduced, both litter and anti-social behaviour have dropped significantly along the east side of Loch Lomond.
“Communities have seen a marked improvement in visitor behaviour, and businesses are seeing real economic benefits with families returning to the area, adding to the local economy and enjoying the tranquillity.”
But Peter Jack, chairman of the Loch Lomond Association, said: “The authority wants to create a park that’s for looking at from through a windshield – they don’t want people out there getting down and dirty and enjoying the park.”