Page last updated at 12:16 GMT, Monday, 8 February 2010

Camping by-laws for bonny banks

Litter left after camping
Irresponsible camping is damaging the area, the national park say

New by-laws could prevent people from camping in certain areas on the shores of Loch Lomond.

The legislation, proposed by the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park, is designed to tackle the impact of "irresponsible camping".

It would restrict camping in some of the park's most popular beauty spots, including Rowardennan, Balmaha, Sallochy Bay and Milarrochy.

The by-laws are now subject to a 12-week public consultation.

The 720-square mile (1,865 sq km) national park is one of the most visited rural areas of Scotland with over 3.5 million visitors a year.

It contains some of Scotland's most iconic scenery, including 21 Munros.

Chopped trees
Trees are often chopped down to provide fuel for fires

Camping would be restricted in an area covering 14 square kilometres.

Under the by-laws it would be an offence for people to pitch a tent or set up any form of shelter - including sleeping in a vehicle - within the restricted areas.

The park's chief executive, Fiona Logan, said: "This is undoubtedly some of the most beautiful scenery in Scotland and some of the most well known.

"We have amazing views along the banks of Loch Lomond but unfortunately, if you take a closer look on a busy summer weekend, you'll find the remains of tents, burnt down trees, abandoned campfires and countless bags of rubbish."

Ms Logan said the sheer numbers of people were "slowly degrading" the banks of the loch.

Incidents including drunkenness, vandalism and criminal damage were having a negative impact, she said.

In certain areas, this type of action maybe the only way this can be brought under control
Hebe Carus
Mountaineering Council of Scotland

Hebe Carus, access officer for the Mountaineering Council of Scotland, said it was a "common misconception" that the right to camp by the road was enshrined in law by the Land Reform Act.

"The act only has anything to say about wild camping, not roadside camping," she said.

"Roadside camping would not be an issue if people were not misbehaving - it's how people are doing it.

"In certain areas, this type of action maybe the only way this can be brought under control."

But there are fears the legislation could be used to "harass" backpackers who are camping responsibly.

Outdoors blogger Darren Christie said: "I think that the park authorities need to adopt a scheme that will allow them to clamp down on these 'informal campers' that are causing the damage, while also allowing legitimate backpackers to still enjoy their hobby."

Mr Christie said he also hoped the national park would adopt a "common sense" approach.

"Backpackers are not the problem here, and it is usually pretty obvious who is a backpacker and who isn't," he added.

The consultation will run to 3 May 2010.

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