A MP has launched a petition calling for a "congestion charge" for campervans on Scotland's answer to America's Route 66.

The move follows angry locals around the North Coast 500 (NC500) cataloguing the littering of their villages and beauty spots with abandoned tents, human excrement and even an a dumped caravan.

So far more than 3700 people have joined a Facebook group in just days documenting the abuse around the 516 mile coastal route in and out of Inverness.

Kinlochbervie community councillor Margaret Meek set up the NC500 The Land Weeps Facebook group after locals complained of the "desecration" of their villages.

Now Liberal Democrat Jamie Stone, who represents Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, wants a campervan congestion charge with the money reinvested into improving the area's roads.

"The Scottish Government need to know the full force of our concerns about the NC500 roads and the impact that irresponsible tourists are having on us all. I've always supported our local tourism and hospitality industries but we need some fairness!" he said.

The petition asks:"Are you sick of roadside campers leaving mess along the NC500? Are you worried about the impact heavy vehicles are having on our single track roads? Are you concerned about the impact all this is having on our public services?

"Well I certainly am. I've drafted a letter to Nicola Sturgeon petitioning her to introduce a roadside campers congestion charge in the Highlands. Ideally, the profit would be ringfenced for investment in our roads and roadside facilities. It is simply unfair that us locals continue to bear the economic, environmental, and societal cost inflicted by an influx of campervans that our roads simply cannot accommodate.

"I fully support our tourism industry - and I want tourists to enjoy the beauty of the Far North - but whilst most visitors treat our beautiful environment with the love and respect that we locals do, unfortunately, some do not.

"The NC500 has been a brilliant boost to the Far North, benefiting local hotels and businesses. However, for it to reach its full potential we need to see increased investment into the roads. Having a few hundred bicycles is not doing the damage ? instead, it?s the very heavy campervans and motorhomes that crush our narrow single track roads, which Highland Council has to pick up the bill for."

The petition can be found at https://www.jamiestone.org.uk/nc500petition?fbclid=IwAR1VWMooMDBRxtP3viwnG10mouQnkplbq5GYlJPDJ5GQKtvdpSbj-rLxEDc

Mrs Meek said locals wanted polices to manage campervans, deal with litter and human waste and rangers to police the abuses.

And she also warned:"If a camper brings coronavirus to the area how are going to contact trace them?"

Sutherland Highland councillor Hugh Morrison said that on one night last week there were 48 vehicles and 28 tents at one beach beauty spot in Durness.

"It is just out of hand," he said.

Some visitors have used the Facebook group?s page to insist there are many responsible travellers who boost the local economy and use sites properly.

One wrote: ?You are not giving a fair case here when you clump everyone in the bracket of freeloaders, free campers... I think it?s sad to see some of the comments on here, I understand the grief as the whole UK is suffering the same but to be so vigilante is really sad.?

Another said: ?I completely disagree with demonising folk in campervans and motorhomes, most of whom are extremely responsible and tidy up after themselves.?

The North Highland Initiative (NHI) developed the NC500 route five years ago and was launched by Prince Charles.

Chairman David Whiteford said:?NHI will continue working to help deliver a responsible balance between economic recovery and public safety.

?We believe the next essential step is for the Scottish Government to adopt more nuanced messaging to ease anxieties across the country ? especially in the Highlands.

?We?re now looking to the Scottish Government and VisitScotland to implement national and local campaigns to allay anxiety among local Highland communities and deliver a positive, uplifting message as we take safe, measured steps to emerge from lockdown.?

Thousands of people travelled the route before the coronavirus pandemic and the introduction of restrictions on travel and tourism.

In April, signs appeared along the route telling tourists to stay away to protect local communities from the virus.

But traffic has since increased on the NC500 following the lifting of the five mile restriction on travel for leisure and last week's reopening of Scotland's tourism industry.

The route has been described as both a highway to hell and a road paved with gold - boosting tourism but with complaints from residents of speeding motorists and, conversely, also of slow moving convoys of motor homes and long tailbacks of bikers.

It is estimated to be worth more than £22m a year to the local economy.

The route has been hailed by various top travel publications, National Geographic and American broadcaster CNN as one of the world's greatest drives and highlighted on TV shows such as Top Gear.

On its website the NC500 warns:"If you are planning to visit the North Coast 500 as restrictions ease, please be considerate to the local communities by following the published guidelines and ensuring that you wear face coverings, practice good hand hygiene and adhere to social distancing guidelines whilst supporting local businesses.

The NC500 is now a private company.