Dr Aileen McLeod, Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform
Dear Dr McLeod,
I am writing to you to express my disappointment, if not utter disgust at your decision to allow the board of the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park to introduce further restrictions on camping which are completely odds with the Land Reform Act 2003, which applies unfettered to the rest of Scotland.
My introduction to camping came in the late 1970’s, early 1980’s. As part of an angling club I visited lochs across Scotland, Loch Earn, soon to be a “Restricted Zone” under the legislation you have approved, was a regular destination. We camped out using homemade shelters, this being long before the availability of the wide range of cheap and plentiful outdoors gear which exists today. Tents then, for those who had them, were expensive and were to be looked after; aired after use, repaired when torn, they were indeed prized possessions. Today tents of reasonable quality can be picked up for twenty pounds or less. Cheap and cheerful, their very cheapness means they can be afforded by most, and should they become damaged they are more likely to be replaced rather than repaired. Many other items to accompany the tent can be viewed in a similar manner. The budget stove, sleeping bag and airbed all go to making camping affordable for all.
This is not without its problems. Many of these products are marketed almost as disposable items, to be thrown away after use. By and large these items are not bought by the serious camper, the long-distance hiker, the Munro bagger. They are bought by the relatively inexperienced, by families and festival goers, by weekend campers; people who have little knowledge of the ethos of “Leave No Trace”. Indeed, if your only experience of spending time in a tent is at T-in the Park, you may not see the error in leaving beer bottles, rubbish and indeed your tent lying in your wake. After all, someone clears them up, don’t they?
Teaching people to value the outdoors, to respect both the environment and others who live and work there are key to changing how people behave. Over the years we have changed perceived norms for better and safer practices. To reduce deaths in car accidents we introduced seatbelts. To make roads safer alcohol limits were introduced for drivers. To cut road accidents a ban on mobile phone use while driving was brought in and they have all gone some way to achieving their aims. Having said that people still drive without wearing a seatbelt, there are still people being caught drink driving, and you only have to stand by a busy road to see people driving while on their mobile phones. Not everyone does these things, but we must acknowledge that there are people who will ignore laws, so long as they think they will get away with it. This is where enforcement comes in.
Let’s be honest, what we are talking about is anti-social behaviour in a rural setting scattered over pockets across a wide area. I welcome the proposed creation of camping areas and their supporting facilities, but by creating these spaces you also limit capacity; and what then for the through hiker? When the law abiding majority will be corralled into “Pay To Stay” sanitised areas the problem visitors will remain just that; problem visitors, and as far as I can see the plans put forward by the National Park board, and approved by the Scottish Government fail to address the problem of enforcement. Policing in the area is completely inadequate to deal with the problems faced over such a wide area, and by and large the problem will remain. Some will argue that with law abiding safely tucked up in designated sites that it will then be easier to identify and deal with those breakin
No problem - more interested in a public debate than a private & thought there might be enough passion for someone to pick up the debate plus PM's have to be answered by being on here.
I'm surprised at the lack of discussion on your FB page & here. I thought passions may be higher. But then I guess it's not gear! I once had to face down a very passionate (angry) Scot who decided intimidation was the best policy when I wouldn't sign the petition to lift the NTS ban on camping around the Clachaig many years ago. The place was a midden & it was mainly 'nice' outdoorsy folk camping there - not 'chavs'.
Out of Bounds - map 4B. Is that as in complete access ban? Do you have a link?
What's the best resource online on the anti-ban side?
Reading a lot of residents views in support of the ban is interesting as is the accounts of current ineffective policing.
Early days for the FB page, more to come over the next few days and weeks (nightshift working doesn't help). By out of bounds I mean for camping. Other access is unaffected.
No response from Jester or anyone anti the ban - bit disappointed.
I did a bit of googling so let me know if I've got anything wrong
The same bye laws will apply across all four management zones.
Outside of those zones (96.3% of park) there will be no change
Outside restricted season of 1 March to 30 September 'wild 'camping is allowed as normal.
Permits process - to be decided?
Are there plans to boycott US National Parks? - Can't find evidence but interested to know views of those anti the ban re the access for walkers & 'wild' campers in the National Parks in the USA where things are a lot more restrictive re where you can camp, permits etc. even though they are generally much further away from big centres of population than Scottish NP's, especially Lomond/Trossachs.
If you are seeking an immediate response why not PM me? I'm not on here all the time.
Glad to see you've found the proposals.
The same restrictions apply across the four zones, and if you look at the maps, by and large the restrictions cover an area around 250m from the shoreline. In some areas though there are fairly large areas which are completely "out of bounds" (Map 4B being a good example).
From reading the byelaws, no tents, wigwams or bivouacs are allowed at any time, and the only overnight shelter allowed is an umbrella. Looks like this chap might be alright...
As for US National Parks, I have no interest in them. My area of interest is access rights in Scotland. How the Americans deal with their National Parks is entirely up to them.
The same could be said for Football matches but we still have a massive police presence. So you are saying we should let them back so as not to spoil other areas? Nah a total ban like in England would be better that way wildcampers would do what they do here and go high and discreet and leave no trace. It works for us.
I think you are maybe misunderstanding that we already have access legislation which applies across Scotland. This legislation creates, and I quote, "Restricted Zones".
My introduction to camping was at some of the very locations LLTNP wish to ban people from. We didn't all come out of a packet, filled with knowledge and responsibility. These things have to be learned.
Many years back I attempted the West Highland Way, and did so with equipment and supplies which were way to heavy and cumbersome. I camped twice along Loch Lomond, one of those locations would no doubt fall into one of the new "Restricted Zones". Had Police or Park Rangers attempted to move me I doubt I would have had the energy...
If Police Scotland, Park Rangers and the local community co-operate, and have the will to do so they could already deal with the anti-social campers. They aren't doing so. I would ask people to consider why that should be the case.
They wish to make it against the law to do something which is, and has been for years, legal. Once they have outlawed it they then intend to sell the right to camp back to us. They are trying to further a commercial agenda, not an access one.
What they have proposed could be used to further erode our access rights, and that is not something I can support.