Probe into record number of water safety breaches amid loch drownings

Four people died earlier this year in what was described as 'one of the worst weekends' in Loch Lomond's history.

Probe into record number of water safety breaches amid loch drownings iStock
Probe: Water safety breaches to be examined at Loch Lomond.

Loch Lomond bosses are probing a record number of water safety breaches following a year which saw ‘one of the worst weekends’ in the park’s history with four deaths.

Connor Markward, 16, died on Friday, July 23 while playing with friends in the loch near Balloch Country Park, West Dunbartonshire.

The following day, Edina Olahova, 29, Rana Haris Ali, nine, and Muhammad Asim Riaz, 39, died after getting into difficulty in the water off Pulpit Rock, near Ardlui, Argyll and Bute.

At the time Gordon Watson, Chief Executive of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority, said: “This has undoubtedly been one of the worst weekends in the National Park’s history.”

According to a report, there have been 403 alleged byelaw breaches since the beginning of January 2021 far this year, compared to a previous high of 247 in 2018.

The report also sets out the actions taken by the park authority and its partners following the tragedies, including that signs and public rescue equipment were upgraded at a number of key locations.

A new water safety advice page was added to the National Park’s website, and water safety training was held with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, the RNLI and Education Scotland.

The report found that users of jetskis and similar ‘personal watercrafts’ accounted for 177 of the 403 alleged byelaw breaches recorded by rangers from the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park since the beginning of January 2021.

The data was revealed in a report on visitor management across Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, prepared by national park officials.

The alleged breaches this year were against 357 registered loch users.

The report says: “The majority of offences related to speeding, display of annual marks and registration numbers or failure to register.

“Personal watercraft like jet-skis accounted for 44% of contraventions, followed by motor cruisers (17%) and speedboats (15%).

“To date, six cases have been reported and one is pending report to the procurator fiscal by the National Park Authority for alleged contraventions of the Loch Lomond byelaws.”

The report is due to be considered by members of the park authority’s board on Monday, December 13.