New Loch Lomond park camping crackdown bylaws proposed
Camping could be severely restricted in parts of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park under new proposals from the park's board.
Seasonal bylaws banning unauthorised camping and alcohol were introduced to parts of east Loch Lomond in 2011.
The park's board now want to bring in bylaws at two more areas in response to littering and anti-social behaviour.
The proposals will be put before the park's board next week ahead of a public consultation.
A report which will go before the National Park Authority on Monday details the "resounding success" of the existing bylaw system.
Vandalism and reports of anti-social behaviour are down 81% in the regulated areas.
The report continues that there remain "entrenched problems" at popular loch shore locations in the wider park, which have been left in "a very poor and deteriorating state".
Anti-social behaviour noted from some visitors includes littering, "cutting down live trees and irresponsible fire lighting".
Campers who set up caravans and campsites for months on end were also identified as an issue.
In response to this, it is proposed that camping management bylaws be introduced to two new areas, covering many lochs in the Trossachs, much of the west side of Loch Lomond and the north-east tip of Loch Long.
The bylaws, which would make it an offence to camp outside authorised sites without a permit or to cause damage to the area or wildlife, would be accompanied by investment in new facilities.
They would be in effect from 1 March to 31 October each year, applying only to "concentrated areas of entrenched pressures" - which the report notes would cover less than 5% of the park's 720 square miles.
Richard Graham, who runs a tourism business in St Fillians, said the proposals are a "very positive step forward".
"We'd rather see people educated, but unfortunately I think the people who work here, including park rangers and the police, are fairly powerless to do anything," he said.
"There needs to be a line over which people can't step."
However Helen Todd, campaigns manager for Ramblers Scotland, said she was "shocked" by how wide-spread the proposals were.
"I've talked to the park authority and we share the same desires for how to manage these places and I have a lot support for the work they're doing," she said.
"But I really don't buy the case that they need bylaws to bring these into effect.
"In terms of setting precedents, we've seen it spreading across the park, and I'd imagine there are communities in other parts of Scotland where people will be thinking they need them too.
"Bit by bit this fantastic access legislation we have is being whittled away."