loch lomond byelaw review

What To Do About Loch Lomond?

There are some discussions going on about what to do about some of the problems that have been going on at Loch Lomond with regard to antisocial behaviour…

A camping ban on east Lomondside could be extended to four islands in the loch to tackle “irresponsible behaviour” like vandalism and fire lighting.

The Loch Lomond National Park said “major change” was needed to secure the future of Inchmoan, Inchconnachan, Inchtavannach and Inchcruin.

New laws banning camping outside designated sites is one of three options being considered.

A public consultation reviewing all by-laws on the loch has been launched.

It will run for three months, closing on 18 June.

This is a risky subject as it risks stigmatising certain groups of people and it isn’t fair to have one rule for one group of people and a different rule for another.

The crux of it is that the countryside must be left open for use to everyone but also must not be left to be trashed by people and to manage these two things is a thorny problem.

I’ll start by telling you my experiences with this.

There isn’t only one group of problem people.  I have been there and seen the “I’ve got a merc and I love showing it off” type of idiot throwing things out of cars, leaving bottles and cans etc. Their lack of care for their environment that they show in the city by driving unnecessarily large cars and using unnecessarily large amounts of resources is reproduced in the countryside too.

But I’ll explain another kind of problem you can encounter there too. For a few years my friends and I regularly went up the east side of the Loch in the summer.

As we all know, the weather in Scotland prohibits planning these things way in advance so what we usually did was if the weather was fine in the afternoon then the calls would start at around 3 to see who was coming. Whoever finished work first would go to buy the necessaries and then after work we would pile into my friends car and off we went. Sometimes we camped and other times the wishes of the only sober one (the driver) had to be respected and we went back to Glasgow.

We, as I am sure many other people do, were careful to remove everything that we brought with is. All beer cans, cigarette butts, bags, literally everything that we took with us and used went back with us in the car. We did build a fire however, there are very good reasons to stop fires being built in some areas but in others it shouldn’t really be a massive problem. This is why one of the suggestions for the consultation “A second option would be to provide camping facilities and fire pits, but not legally enforce their use.” might be a good idea.

With the problem of rubbish, when we first started going there really wasn’t that much rubbish around or signs of misuse but over a few years it started to get worse and as we walked around the east side trying to find a spot there was more rubbish, year on year.

The last straw (or possibly the penultimate one) for us  was when we went and got ourselves set up on one beach and we heard the boomf boomf boomf of some pretty sh*tty rave music coming from up the beach a bit. Then we saw a few of them approaching us and we knew that this wasn’t likely to be good. We had made a fire and the young guy who had come over to speak to us was clearly off his face (as were we to honest but with a different combination of things). He proceeded to ask us what we had been using to cut wood and informed us that he had a machete and was making vaguely threatening noises about it.

Oh sh*t.

We were starting to worry at this point but we were lucky as one of our group had some kind of mate of a mate of a mate relationship with one of them.

This wasn’t the only incident we had had and after this we started looking for other places around the Loch or elsewhere that we could go. We found a pretty secluded spot next to a little river that flows into the Loch and from then on we went there and were neither seen nor heard, nor were we bothered by anyone else. We never went to the islands in the middle of the Loch.

“We have some of Scotland’s most precious species and habitats here and sadly some visitors continue to behave irresponsibly, which clearly has a lasting impact on nature and also the experience of other visitors to the islands,” he said.

As I said before, it is vital that the public is free to get out in the countryside. For the islands it is even more vital that the ecology there is not ruined.

It is not an easy problem to fix.

The consultation continues until June 18th. Please take part if you have any solutions or suggestions.