The campaign against the byelaws being introduced by the LLTNP, which are supported by the Scottish Government, is gaining momentum.
The LLTNP Board have repeatedly stated that only around 3% of the park will be affected by the ban. This figure has been reached with the crudest of maths, by taking the Parks 1865 square kilometres and subtracting the area where the ban will apply, which accounts for that 3%. By rights 97% of the National Park should be available for camping, right? Wrong! That 97% includes the largest body of water in Scotland, Loch Lomond, along with around a dozen more bodies of water of various size, from tiny Lochan Reoidhte to Loch Earn. That 97% doesn’t account for habited areas, gardens and numerous other places that people simply couldn’t wild camp anyway.
To look at it another way, where do people visit and where do they want to stay? Considering the lochs in the area have the best infrastructure already many people will want to be near the lochs, for fishing, canoeing or as a convenient place to stay before or after hillwalking. Looking at the central area of the National Park I found that of the eight main bodies of water, very little of the shoreline corridor will be free of the ban. Rather than 97% availability, it’s a 100% ban on Lochs Earn and Achray and Lochan Reoidhte, between 70% and 80% on Lochs Venachar, Drunkie and Voil, and over 60% of Lochs Doine and Lubnaig. Of the 40% remaining on the western shore of Loch Lubnaig, much is unsuitable anyway due to development, forestry and the terrain.
LLTNP are trying to corral people into places where they must pay for what is a right elsewhere in Scotland, and have contributed to the local clamour that “something must be done” by not investing in Ranger services, and the Scottish Government have not provided the level of policing that this area appears to require, a common fault in many rural areas.
With the departure of Dr Aileen McLeod we have a new Environment Minister in Roseanna Cunningham, and I hope that she will be more receptive to the concerns of the many individuals and organisations who see this as what it is; an erosion of the rights enshrined in the land Reform Act. As Ms Cunningham was previously the minister who approved the initial Loch Lomond ban in 2011 I fear she will however ignore those concerns. If so will it take a campaign of wilful disobediance of the legislation by responsible wild campers to bring this down? The courts have already indicated they are unwilling to prosecute, and if challenged in the European Courts I have no doubt they would find the ban to be unfair and unjust in addition to being unenforceable.