On Wednesday, James Stuart, new convener of the National Park had an agenda piece in the Herald to promote the consultation on the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park draft plan (see here). It included a commitment to engage properly recreational organisations – a implicit indictment of the way the LLTNPA bludgeoned through its camping byelaws – but a welcome step in the right direction. The response from Dave Morris (above) shows the disastrous consequences.
The wider point though is the LLTNPA did not just fail to consult with representative organisations, they failed to consult any of the people who actually camp and stop in campervans along the loch shores. I saw a good illustration of this yesterday morning driving up the A82 to climb on the Ben. There were campervans everywhere, in the Transport Scotland laybys which are exempt from the byelaws, on road verges (which are also exempt although the LLTNPA has not recognised this), in car parking areas where they are not (unless covered by the permit system as at Inveruglas and off-road.
Anyone who actually slept the night in the campervans in the above photo were committing criminal offences although I doubt any of the owners knew it. What the photo illustrates is the byelaws are completely unenforceable – for campervans anyway. If challenged by a Ranger all the campervan has to do is move onto a road verge or into a layby. Complete nonsense. The LLTNPA would have never got itself into this mess if it had actually talked to the people who use campervans. So, how about some proper visitor surveys – instead of the latest dumbed down ones that say nothing – asking people what they need? I suspect the answers will include “be left alone to make our own decisions” and Chemical disposal points. Where are the chemical disposal points in the National Park (I have asked) and what are the plans to increase them? Err……………..
And over to the Cairngorms National Park Authority
Following its lengthy coverage of National Parks in January, Scotland Out of Doors on Saturday included an interview Hamish Trench from the Cairngorms National Park Authority. Its right at the start BBC out of doors. Mark Stephen asked some searching questions about what partnership actually means and whether some partners have more power than others – highly recommended. While Hamish Trench’s answers were carefully worded, the really important thing is that CNPA staff appear prepared now to articulate a vision for the National Park integral to which is large scale conservation. While I don’t believe this can be achieved through the current ways of partnership working, which favour landed interests over everyone else, the fact that the CNPA is promoting this vision in public is in a sense a challenge to those interests. Intelligent questions from the media, such as those put by Mark Stephen, can only help change the parameters of the debate.