Moves to ban wild camping should be resisted in favour of education, according to the head of Scouts Scotland.
Katie Docherty, Scouts Scotland chief executive, spoke out after it was suggested that Perthshire might benefit from bye laws to curb “loutish behaviour”.
“Wild camping has so many potential benefits; it’s a chance to experience the real outdoors,” she said.
“It allows children and young people to learn about nature, learn about their surroundings. It builds resilience and confidence.
“In the UK, 96% of adults believe they were happier as a child because they spent more time outdoors. Let’s teach more people to be responsible outdoors rather than restrict where people can camp. That’s part of what we teach in Scouting.
“Lord Baden Powell put it best when he said ‘leave the world a little better than you found it’ certainly that’s the view of Scouts Scotland when it comes to wild camping or any activity in the outdoors.”
The mess left by some people was highlighted by grandmother Sue Band from Murthly who was disgusted by the debris on the shores of Loch Tummel and contacted The Courier.
MSP Murdo Fraser said banning camping from certain places – as introduced by the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park – should be a “last resort”.
Opposed to any ban is Steve Tapley from Arbroath, chairman of the Pike Anglers’ Alliance for Scotland.
“Many Lochs in Scotland are suffering from this loutish behaviour and the one and only conclusion people can come up with is to issue a permanent ban that will destroy other land users’ pleasure of the area,” said Mr Tapley, 55.
“We have at the moment nearly 200 members and this type of ban would severely affect how we go about our fishing throughout the year.
“My members act responsibly and often remove rubbish left by others when they fish these waters.
“We as a club would find the banning of camping very restrictive in the way we fish as most of our members at some time throughout the season camp to go fishing.”
Mr Tapley said that in many place in Scotland this type of problem has been eradicated by the riparian owners.
“They visit the areas most days and will not tolerate anyone behaving in this manner,” he said. “The owners are extremely busy people but with their vigilance these types of rubbish creating campers are not allowed on their ground.
“I would ask those considering a ban to look deeper into the issues and use the laws that they already have at their disposal rather than bring out bans that I feel wouldn’t rectify the situation.”
Councillor Caroline Shiers who represents Blairgowrie & Glens said people should report “hotspots” to the police.
“The core issue for me is there are a few people who through their carelessness cause problems for everyone else who wants to enjoy the countryside and is responsible and takes their rubbish home,” she said.