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Plans to cut litter and ban camping at Loch Lomond

PARK rangers could be given powers to impose on the spot fines for dropping litter as part of radical new moves to cut crime and pollution around Loch Lomond and the Trossachs.

The National Park Authority (NPA) is considering giving the area’s 60 park rangers the same powers as community wardens who issue fixed penalty notices to those who drop litter.

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But the authority says there is a need for a “co-ordinated national campaign” led by the Scottish Government and VisitScotland to cut the amount of litter.

It also plans to introduce a new volunteer ranger service whose role will be focussed on welcoming visitors, allowing the professionals to carry out enforcement.

The NPA confirmed a move to ban roadside camping in some parts of the area, as revealed by The Herald. It has now emerged it could be extended if the pilots are successful.

The NPA also aims to introduce camping by-laws to ban camping in certain areas, while setting up informal camp sites with toilet and litter facilities in others.

It has taken legal advice over the move and believes it can bring the by-laws in while remaining true to the Land Reform Act and the National Park Act.

The first areas to be targeted are East Loch Lomond, Loch Lubnaig, Loch Venacher and Luss and if successful are set to be introduced elsewhere, the authority said.

The move comes as park managers have become concerned that informal roadside camping has resulted in drunkenness, vandalism, problems with human waste, litter and the cutting down of trees and wood burning.

But a move to have park rangers become special constables in an attempt to cut crime and traffic problems around Loch Lomond and the Trossachs has resulted in only three coming forward.

The NPA, which has been in discussions with Central Scotland Police about the initiative, believes it would allow for increased enforcement power working alongside police.

The authority is already funding a dedicated police officer.

Fiona Logan, chief executive of the NPA, said: “Our success in encouraging large numbers of people to visit the park has led to a number of issues that the NPA and partners need to resolve, including informal camping, litter, toileting and traffic management.

“There are also the problems of excess – the extreme issues caused by a minority of people resulting in a range of anti-social behaviours, including drunkenness, vandalism, criminal damage, assault and vehicular trespass that we wish to reduce through increased management.”

Some of the plans for the future emerged yesterday as Richard Lochhead MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Environment, paid his first visit to Scotland’s first National Park.

Mr Lochhead said: “Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park is one of Scotland’s most spectacular assets and an area of astounding natural beauty. There are many visitors during the summer months, which has put considerable pressure on the area over the years. So it is essential we all pay due respect to the area when visiting.

“I understand the National Park board is taking an innovative approach towards large visitor numbers and tackling the anti-social behaviour of a small minority.

“With a Ranger patrol boat to enforce navigation by-laws already in place, they are now planning to concentrate their efforts on the lochside, building on the success of the wider Respect the Park initiative and its partnership working with police forces and Forestry Commission Scotland.

“And with the introduction of special constables, plus extra ranger patrols, they have helped to ensure everyone can enjoy their visit to the fullest. I commend the Park for this forward-thinking approach to improving the visitor experience and look forward to coming back in the next few years to see even more progress on the ground.”

Tourism in the National Park generates about £247m towards the economy and it is estimated more than 3.5million people visit it every year.

The NPA is spending approximately £2m on visitor management activity this year, including operation of the National Park Ranger Service and support to policing initiatives.

This includes in the Loch Lomond area 6000 hours of patrolling and there were 1500 hours of site maintenance and litter picking between April and July.

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