Plans to restrict camping at the Loch Lomond and the Trossach National Park have been approved by ministers as part of a drive aimed at tackling “antisocial” behaviour at beauty spots.
New byelaws will introduce four camping management zones in the park – West and North Loch Lomond, Trossachs West and North – with the legislation including the launch of a camping
The Scottish Government said the crackdown was needed due to littering and vandalism including fire-damage, the destruction of trees, as well as the abandonment of camping equipment said to be blighting the area.
Antisocial campers could also be reported to the procurator-fiscal, with the seasonal byelaws due to come into effect next year. They will be active from
1 March to 30 September.
There will be 300 low-cost camping places introduced and a permit system in other areas to allow “informal” lochshore camping at “sustainable levels”.
However, outdoor campaigners said the rules would damage access rights and claimed the antisocial behaviour had been caused by a failure to invest in the park.
Jess Dolan, director of Ramblers Scotland, said: “This is a sad day for everyone who holds Scottish access rights dear. The national park itself has admitted that most of the antisocial problems arising from some camping activities are caused by a lack of infrastructure and enforcement of existing legislation.”
Kim Atkinson, Scottish Sports Association chief executive, added: “Our OPG [Outdoor Pursuits Group] remains unconvinced that bye-laws are the solution, and remains concerned that they will undermine Scotland’s much-prized access legislation.”
However, Linda McKay, convener of the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Authority, said the new regulations would serve to protect areas of “outstanding natural beauty”.
Ms McKay said: “This is tremendously positive news for all those who, like us, want to protect and enhance some of Scotland’s most precious natural places.”
Supporting the new restrictions, environment minister Aileen McLeod said: “The evidence that I have seen of damage caused, particularly in some of the most environmentally fragile spots in the National Park, tells a compelling tale of the need for action.
“Abandoned campsites, discarded litter, destruction of plants and trees and the cumulative environmental damage caused by irresponsible campfires is not something that we can allow to happen.”