As Covid-19 restrictions ease further on April 26, a number of measures are being taken in Perth and Kinross to deter “dirty camping”.
Perth and Kinross Council – which last year pledged to take a robust approach in 2021 – has outlined a range of measures including tougher sanctions and the issuing of trowels to dispose of human waste.
The action follows issues last summer with parking, littering, damage to fields and trees, human waste, vandalism, unattended campfires as well as other anti-social behaviour fuelled by intoxication.
Perth and Kinross Council (PKC) has joined up with other agencies including Police Scotland, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) and Forestry and Land Scotland to create a council-led visitor management group.
A campaign entitled Love it Like You Live Here is being launched to urge visitors not to spoil beauty spots for other visitors or local communities.
PKC has said it aims to engage, educate, encourage and enforce as well as improve the local infrastructure.
Some of the improvements include the introduction of clearways on a number of local roads around beauty spots.
Anyone who breaches these could land a parking fine or even have their vehicle towed away.
Breedon Aggregates has donated hardcore allowing PKC to create a new parking area at Loch Clunie.
Visitors to Loch Tummel and Loch Rannoch will be issued with “Dig It Kits” which will include a trowel and paper bags to dispose of human waste.
PKC is currently in the process of recruiting seven seasonal visitor rangers who will patrol the area and offer help and advice to visitors.
PKC has told the local democracy reporting service signage will be erected as soon as possible.
Local residents are being kept updated of developments with newsletters as well as having rangers on the ground regularly speaking to them.
A number of Highland Perthshire council car parks now have signs saying “No Overnight Parking” in the hope campervans will use local campsites instead.
PKC’s depute director of communities Clare Mailer said: “We are asking all visitors, wild campers and residents to enjoy the great outdoors responsibly, and not spoil it for others.
“We are very lucky to live in an area of great natural beauty and we must work together to protect and look after it.”
SFRS Perth and Kinross group commander Ewan Baird said they were concerned about wild fires.
He said: “Due to COVID restrictions we are expecting to see numbers of visitors increase.
“As the challenging situation is most likely to remain, the SFRS has raised concerns regarding access issues to waterways to action rescues and the high risk of open/campfires going out of control potentially growing to wildfires.
“These challenges we face as a rescue service are avoidable if visitors pre-plan, take proper precautions and act responsibly. Our waterways and lochs present a huge attraction, however mixed with alcohol and anti-social behaviour can, and has, led to devastating consequences.
“To work more effectively, this year we will be harnessing the capacity of our retained and volunteer station staff on a larger scale to tackle these issues which are literally on their doorstep.
“Working collaboratively with partner agencies we will undertake a programme of visits to these beauty spots to discuss our concerns with our visitors and let them understand the local communities concern.”
Chief inspector Graham Binnie, of Police Scotland, is urging visitors to park “safely and respectfully” and “leave no trace of your visit.”
He warned action would be taken if needed and said: “Our approach throughout the pandemic has been to engage with the public, explain the legislation and guidance and encourage compliance, but we will not hesitate to continue to use our enforcement powers as a last resort.”
Anyone who wants to report an issue can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Police Scotland on 101 in the first instance or dial 999 if it is an emergency.
By local democracy reporter Kathryn Anderson