Police in Perthshire have ramped up patrols at a shutdown ski centre, after an influx of visitors from neighbouring regions.
Chief Inspector Graham Binnie, area commander for Perth and Kinross, said skiers and sledgers are continuing to flout covid rules by travelling to Glenshee for exercise over the winter months.
The centre was forced to close in early January, meaning it has so far missed out on what could have been ideal conditions for a strong wintersports season.
Police in Tayside and Aberdeenshire have teamed up to patrol the centre and nearby roads on weekends.
The unauthorised visits have led to a rise in call-outs for mountain rescue teams, with at least one injured cross-country skier having to be helped off the slopes since the centre was shut.
Mr Binnie told members of Perth and Kinross Council’s Housing and Communities Commmittee: “We had people travelling into the area during the summer for the purpose of wild camping, but now we are seeing a few people travelling up to the ski centre at Glenshee over the winter.”
He said there had been a “spike” in the number of people getting into difficulty.
“We have also seen an increase in deployments of mountain rescue teams in the winter months, with people getting into trouble walking into hills and mountains,” he said.
Last week, the Tayside Mountain Rescue team was scrambled to Glenshee after a skier suffered a chest injury. The crew was helped by staff at the ski centre and a local gamekeeper.
The man fell on a hill at Rheidorrach, near the centre, and was taken to Ninewells in a Coastuard Search and Rescue Helicopter with a serious chest injury.
Mr Binnie told the committee that demands on his officers had shifted since the second national lockdown began.
“The weekends now tend to be spent dealing with calls about house parties, which have replaced calls about the night-time economy and the licensing trade,” he said.
“No surprise to say that Perth is the hotspot here, but there are very few properties in the Perth and Kinross area that have come to our attention more than once. And those that have are generally on our radar, in terms of other types of antisocial behaviour.”
Committee convener Bob Brawn said: “Current regulations state that we should make essential journeys only but we are allowed out for exercise. In this instance we seem to be having a conflict between the two rules.”
The Conservative councillor for Blairgowrie and Glens – which includes the Glenshee centre – added: “Common sense should prevail here – if you live in Dundee or Angus you don’t have to come to Glenshee to exercise.
“As we start to see a light at the end of this pandemic, I would ask everyone to keep to the spirit of the regulations and ensure that we get back to normality as soon as possible.”