Anyone who responded to the Your Park consultation or followed the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park plans for new campsites will recognise this photo of tents pitched on wooden platforms. While this slide from the secret LLTNPA Board Meetings (see here) reveals this was this was a specific proposal for the Ardvorlich Estate it also tells us a lot about how the Park has developed its camping proposals. First it tells us that the people who developed the camping plan did not have a clue about camping. This photo was used for about two years and indeed the original Loch Chon planning application made earlier this summer contained proposals for camping on wooden platforms. Not a single LLTNPA Board Member appears to have questioned this. Even Flamingo Land – which may well, if its allowed to go ahead, develop some sort of camping at Balloch – allows people to camp on grass http://www.flamingoland.co.uk/holiday-resort/accommodation/camping-and-caravanning-guide.html even if that is at £42 a night. The decisions in the original camping plan were taken by people who never camp and failed to engage with those who do.
Second, the site plan is interesting because it shows the camping area was to be situated away from the loch shore, and a north facing slope at that.
The illustrative campsite plan, which appears to relate to the Ardvorlich campsite, although this is not stated explicitly, shows this very clearly. Its as if the campsite was designed and located to keep people away from the shore when as everyone knows its the shores where people want to camp (and not lost in the depths of Forest Drive where the Park now wishes to force people to camp). This provides evidence that an unstated aim of the LLTNPA is to use the camping byelaws to remove as much camping from the loch shores as possible.
There are two other interesting slides for the Loch Earn campsite which come from earlier slide shows that year.
This illustration was linked with the photo in the first slide in this post and appears to show the Ardvorlich campsites in profile. Note the flat areas with tents on them which appear to be carved out of the hillside. More hyprocrisy from the LLTNPA that at the same time it was developing this proposal was spinning that campers cause all the significant damage in the National Park.
This slide, from April 2015, is significant because it shows that at that time the Park were proposing not just a campsite but also a permit zone, a total of up to 55 places.
In the camping “strategy” approved by the LLTNPA meeting in October 2016 there is no sign of the Ardvorlich campsite proposal or explanation of why its no longer being considered. Instead its been replaced by a permit zone running more or less along the same area of shore for about 6k.
The permit zone allows for just 38 places compared to the 55 originally envisaged. Yet more evidence of the arbitrary way the LLTNPA takes decisions.
Although the south Loch Earn area is described as a permit area with services, there will be no facilities developed before the start of the camping byelaws. Instead, its listed as one of two proposals under a heading in the strategy “Investment priorities for 2017” .
The extract also shows the Park have not apparently abandoned all ideas of a campsite on south Loch Earn in future. So, I am not sure that the absence of a campsite on platforms in the trees is a sign that the LLTNPA realises this is a daft proposal, its more that they do not have the money to invest at present. And that is significant because my understanding is the Scottish Government has to approve all the Park’s investment plans: this suggests the lack of investment in new campsites, including Loch Earn, comes down to money, austerity and financial cuts.
If the Government does improve investment in facilities next year, that is likely to include toilets as illustrated here in the original proposal for Ardvorlich. At least this looks better than the shipping containers which were approved for Loch Chon but maybe they will be moved here if the Loch Chon campsite turns out to be a flop. What the Park though has not explained is how people in the Loch Earn permit zone are expected to use these toilets: the zone by my reckoning is 6k long – are people meant to drive to them? More evidence that the Park does not have a clue about how to manage visitor pressures. It would be better to distribute the three portaloos behind the screening along the shore at regular intervals rather than have them in one place.
What needs to happen
The Loch Earn proposals show the LLTNPA and Government urgently need to get people with the right expertise involved in the development of a campite plan whether or not the byelaws go ahead.