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Conservation group prepares ‘four pronged’ attack on dirty camping around Loch Rannoch

Residents around Loch Rannoch have been tormented by the menace of dirty campers all summer.
Residents around Loch Rannoch have been tormented by the menace of dirty campers all summer.

Volunteers are gathering feedback from Highland Perthshire residents on a plan to help combat dirty camping next summer.

Loch Rannoch Conservation Association unveiled a 72 page plan to tackle the issue after the number of people visiting the area quadrupled in 2020.

The issue has led to conflicts with locals as roads were blocked, fires were left burning, trees were chopped down and wildlife was harmed by waste being left behind.

Residents reported more than 350 people pitching up at around 100 undesignated camping spots along the banks on weekends throughout the summer.

Dirty camping issues have blighted Highland Perthshire and wider Scotland in 2020.

The previous year, the only weekend where visitor numbers hit triple figures was Easter.

Almost twice as many points around the loch were used by campers as the previous year.

Wild camping is legal but the locals say the number of tourists flocking to Loch Rannoch and nearby lochs Tay and Tummel led to so many issues that action is needed.

Some landowners have taken matters into their own hands, but they and others are keen to work with authorities to improve conditions.

The conservation group, whose members volunteered to clear up much of the mess, have now suggested a “four-pronged” approach of education, engagement, infrastructure and enforcement.

It’s hoped education work can be carried out in schools in addition to local leafleting and speaking to visitors on the ground.

Volunteers say visitor infrastructure in the Rannoch area is “woefully inadequate” for the numbers that they have experienced and expect to see returning next year.

Perth and Kinross Council is being asked to introduce increased bin collections when campers arrive again next year and fund portaloos until a number of toilet blocks are constructed.

Volunteers are seeking clarity on who can enforce a clause in the Scottish Outdoor Access Code which allows people who do not exercise access rights responsibly to be told to leave.

As a means to stop the issue getting that far, the association is proposing putting the QR codes linking to the code on tin signs around the loch.

The group’s report said: “When all else fails, then the small numbers of people who just won’t behave responsibly need to be clear that there is a penalty.

“Part of the issue, we feel, is that PKC employed a ‘softly softly’ approach to the problem, and failed to understand the depth of feeling locally that such an approach brings.”

Perth and Kinross Council says it will continue to work with the group in 2021

A spokesperson said: “While we will always welcome responsible visitors to Perth and Kinross, we are determined to prevent irresponsible dirty camping and to support communities who have to endure the anti-social behaviour of a minority of visitors.

“This year we worked with partner organisations including police and SFRS to patrol busy areas and engage with visitors.

“We also introduced clearways on rural roads where appropriate to tackle inconsiderate parking.”

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