IT’S an issue that has long vexed the authorities that run our national parks and those who visit the parks - the disturbing carelessness of people who are content to disfigure areas of scenic beauty by dumping litter.

The problem is particularly acute in the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs national park, one of the most beautiful parts of Scotland. Three years ago, a major campaign involving Police Scotland and the Loch Lomond park authority, and devoted to the issue of littering and anti-social behaviour, was launched. It came on the heels of frequently-voiced concerns over littering, fly-tipping and wild camping. The campaign came with warnings that National Park Rangers could now impose fixed-penalty notices of £80 for littering and £200 for fly-tipping.

It may have had an impact, but more, evidently, needs to be done. The park is now so pockmarked by unsightly rubbish - empty drinks cans, plastic waste, discarded camping gear - that the authority has now appointed a Litter Prevention Manager in the hope that the issue can be solved. The salary that comes with the well-paid post is an indication of the seriousness with which the problem is being treated.

A “joined-up” litter strategy will be developed, bringing in external partners. This partnership approach is important, especially given the current situation in which the park’s 720 square miles are covered by different councils with differing litter strategies. Reductions in public spending have also left their mark. Meaningful leadership, though belated, has to be welcomed; but it may be, as Nick Kempe, a member of the executive committee of the Scottish Campaign for National Parks, says, the new post needs political support so that a workable strategy can be achieved.

Meantime, what is to be done about the litter-dumping and fly-tipping culprits? Heavier fines? Naming and shaming? It will be interesting to see what emerges from the new strategy, but some may feel that stringent action is required.