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Perthshire ranger service to be piloted after discussions with national parks

Money has been secured to manage wild camping through a ranger pilot, however details about how this will be delivered are yet to be decided.
Money has been secured to manage wild camping through a ranger pilot, however details about how this will be delivered are yet to be decided.

Talks will be held with national park managers, Perth and Kinross Council and neighbouring authorities to implement a new countryside ranger system.

Calls have been made for detail around how a six-figure sum will be spent to launch the ranger programme, in a bid to control “dirty camping”, which has blighted the area.

The administrator of a camping management group had penned an open letter to Perth and Kinross Council asking how the money will be spent.

In response, council leader Murray Lyle said discussions will soon be held to iron out details of how to spend the £240,000, announced in the local authorities budget for the coming year.

Graham Jones, who runs the ‘Tay, Rannoch and Tummel Camping Management Zone Action Group” on Facebook, has been campaigning for managed camping in Highland Perthshire and since last summer’s chaotic scenes, has seen the group increase to more than 700 members.

Cars could be seized as authorities get tough on ‘dirty campers’ in Perthshire

While the group consists of people with views ranging from widespread support for camping to total opposition, Graham says he wants to see investment in infrastructure, particularly in the form of parking, designated camping spots and toilets.

Graham quizzed council leader Murray Lyle on how he intends to spend the £240,000 secured in this month’s budget and has asked that local consultation is key.

His letter read: “I note you are involved in allocating funding of some £240,000 towards a ‘pilot scheme for a ranger service’ and later in the article ‘you wanted to be ‘pro-active’ when it came to the challenges of dirty campers.

“The sum of money mentioned, if used wisely, could have a long lasting and positive impact on our area.

“Can you please provide detailed proposals of how this money is to be spent and can you confirm what local consultation will be happening to ensure that locals have an input on how this money is spent?”

Mr Lyle explained that council chiefs have planned discussions with ranger co-ordinators in the Cairngorm and Loch Lomond National Parks.

The Conservative also said he is in talks with Highland Council, which takes in part of the Cairngorms, and is hoping to pull together knowledge and experience before committing to a plan of action.

He said: “This is something much needed which was approved in the budget last week.

“We’ve contacted the Cairngorms and Loch Lomond National Parks where they have ranger services. Highland Council also contacted me on Thursday.

“We’ll consult with them over the next week or two and have a local consultation.

“They’ve had similar issues and we want to get it right first time, to help people from Kinross to St Fillan’s to Aberfeldy.”

But SNP councillor for Highland Perthshire Mike Williamson said the cash represents a “missed opportunity”, adding some of it should have been used for infrastructure, as well as rangers.

He added: “I have been working with a number of communities across Highland Perthshire to have measures introduced which mitigate against the negative impact to rural communities we have experienced over the last few years.”

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