Page last updated at 12:08 GMT, Thursday, 11 February 2010

Call to extend loch camping ban

Loch Tay
Murdo Fraser wants to see the ban extended to Loch Tay and other areas

Laws preventing people camping around lochs should be extended across highland Perthshire, an MSP has said.

Mid Scotland and Fife MSP Murdo Fraser said by-laws restricting camping would prevent "irresponsible" people damaging the environment.

Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park announced plans on Monday to ban "informal camping" in several areas.

Mr Fraser said he feared the ban could force people to seek out other sites to camp in the Highlands.

He called on Perth and Kinross Council to investigate the possibility of restricting camping around the shores of Lochs Tay, Rannoch and Tummel "as a matter of urgency".

"[The lochs] have some of the most idyllic and stunning scenery in Scotland and many people come here due to the natural beauty of the area," he said.

"Whilst it is welcome to see people coming to the area and supporting the local economy, and whilst most do act responsibly, the actions of a minority cause concern to local residents."

The Land Reform Act has been lauded throughout the world and people see it as quite visionary. A ban would start to intrude on that
Cameron McNeish

Under the proposed Lomond by-laws, now subject to a 12-week public consultation, 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.

Camping would be banned in 14 square kilometres of the national park.

Perth and Kinross environment convener, Councillor Alan Grant, said he would follow developments at Loch Lomond "with interest".

Mr Grant said: "Irresponsible wild camping is unfortunately an issue within Perth and Kinross, notably around lochs such as Lochs Tay, Tummel and Rannoch, but not on the same scale as Loch Lomond experiences."

The council was working with police and local communities to encourage "responsible wild camping" where campers take all their equipment and litter home with them, he added.

Scotland's Land Reform Act 2003 establishes a statutory right to camp, but does not mention roadside camping.

'Great danger'

Mountaineer and journalist Cameron McNeish told BBC Scotland he accepted that specific camping restrictions around Loch Lomond could be the best way to deal with a "nasty" problem.

But he said he would not want to see a ban extended.

"There's always a great danger when you have this type of blanket ban that the innocent will suffer," he said.

"The Land Reform Act has been lauded throughout the world and people see it as quite visionary. A ban would start to intrude on that."

Mr McNeish, who edits The Great Outdoors magazine, said the problem related to people who travelled by car, rather than those who walked, canoed or cycled to camp sites.

"They take the tent out the car and put it up. This isn't wild camping, it's something different," he said.

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