Patrols keep eye on ‘dirty campers’
Lochside visitors reminded to take responsibility
Police Scotland and its partner agencies will be keeping a high- profile presence around Perthshire beauty spots this weekend with good weather forecast.
A spike in the number of incidents where large groups have narrowed country roads with parked vehicles, dumped rubbish and left human waste, has left guardians of Loch Tummel, Loch Rannoch, Loch Tay, Loch Earn and Clunie Loch near Blairgowrie up in arms.
The result is a multi-agency approach to the issue of ‘dirty campers’- the term for an antisocial minority of people who wild camp but do not respect the places they visit.
With festivals and attendance at major sporting events banned to prevent the spread of coronavirus, some politicians like Highland Ward councillor Mike Williamson believe this is a disturbing but understandable situation, where people with nowhere to go to let off steam at weekends plump instead for a bash by a Perthshire loch.
Cllr Williamson has been lobbied by locals wanting measures to prevent trees being cut down, campfires left burning and plastic getting washed into the water.
Last weekend was the first weekend that officers from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, Police Scotland and Perth and Kinross Council worked together on a increased presence at some of the ‘hot spots’.
But despite their efforts, the week began with pictures of bulging bins and scorched grass on social media. Our sister paper the Strathearn Herald also reported that the scene at Loch Earn had been described as “carnage”.
Cllr Williamson said: “There have been some valuable lessons learned from last weekend which will be taken forward so that we all safely and responsibly enjoy our beautiful countryside.
“Along with Pete Wishart MP, I will be visiting people to hear first-hand of their experiences and how we can better manage while camping within our area.
“But I believe that everyone who has an interest in this issue has a role to play. I am intending to organise a visit to Loch Lomond National Park so that we can learn from their experiences.
“I believe that Perth and Kinross Council will be introducing an urban clearway along the Southside of Loch Tummel to prevent roadside parking and to keep the roads clear for agricultural and emergency vehicles.
“I do believe we need to look at a long-term solution to this problem and this will require additional resources and infrastructure to be put in place.”
Police, estate managers and council employees will make an effort to accost visitors setting up camp and remind them of their duty to clear up after.
Inspector Kerry Lynch, of Perth Community Policing, said: “The chief constable has made it clear that we are asking people to take personal responsibility to do the right thing and remember the purpose of these measures is to aid the collective effort to stay safe, protect others and save lives by preventing the virus from spreading.
“Our officers will continue to engage with the public, explain the legislation and guidance and encourage compliance. We will use enforcement as a last resort only where there is a clear breach of the legislation.”