Litter problem worsens as wild campers flock to Loch Lomond
Simon Miller suggested that author Cameron McNeish and Jess Dolan of Ramblers Scotland join the Luss Estates' team on one of its monthly litter-pick stints to see exactly what the excesses of irresponsible wild camping produce month after month.
"We support fully the Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park Authority's (LL&TNPA) proposed extension of camping bye-laws, not because it restricts access to the countryside, but because where roads and water are in close proximity, the level of irresponsible camping is unsustainable. The behaviour and littering of a significant minority of campers means that the only way to address this is to legislate, as proposed.
"I have written to Aileen McLeod, the Minister for Environment, Climate Change & Land Reform, in support of the LL&TNPA's proposals because, regrettably, legislation is the only method of stopping the excesses of irresponsible wild camping.
"My only disappointment is that these bye-laws are not being proposed on the Loch Lomond Islands, which lie close to Luss and receive huge visitor pressure – these are amongst the most protected and environmentally sensitive pieces of countryside in Scotland, supposedly home to endangered flora and fauna. The RSPB has recently declared one species, the Capercaille, locally extinct; there are fewer Capercaille in Scotland than there are Bengal tigers in the world.
"If the situation on the islands is not addressed within a very short time frame it will be too late to save them. This will constitute an appalling act of environmental failure on behalf of Scottish Natural Heritage, LLTNPA and the Scottish Government.
"I personally love wild camping. Luss Estates fully supports the right to roam and is an active promoter of this: we work very closely with the Helensburgh & District Access Trust (H&DAT) and have been instrumental in making the Three Lochs Way route happen. We have created a path network with the LL&TNPA around Luss and at this moment we are working with the H&DAT and on our own behalf on two new walking routes which will involve new path construction.
"We urge people to act responsibly when they are camping around Loch Lomond to ensure it remains a beautiful place for all visitors, and please just take their litter home."
The location of Luss, just 30 minutes from Glasgow, combined with its old world charm and outstanding views, means that the visitor pressure in the area is enormous. It is reputed that 750,000 visitors come to Luss (which has a population of approximately 120) every year.