Author: Ross MacBeath

July 20, 2017 Ross MacBeath No comments exist

An on the spot report by Mechelle Rafferty

This is another report from real park users, in this case Michelle and the crew who have taken the time to record their experiences with LLTNP Camping provision at Loch Chon.  I think it’s safe to say from Mechelles comments and by the looks on the kids faces that it was a very enjoyable three days for all,  tents, water, fire, woods and canoes in a wonderful loch side location, the perfect combination for a great weekend in the park.

Mechelle goes onto describe other site attributes at the start of the video, and visits pitch 21, the jewel in the crown, representing what park users expect from camping pitches in the park.and what the National Park Authority should be delivering as their world class visitor experience.

 

An original loch side pitch at Loch Chon, Pitch 21 is used for groups and you are allowed to pitch 2 tents on this site
Pitch 21, the best pitch on the site, original loch shore location and holds 2 tents

As Mechelle says, it’s the only pitch you are allowed 2 tents, although it would seem some just ignore that rule.   See T&Cs here

Wither a larger family group or just on your own the site has something suitable for all..  There is of course one caveat, you have to book the right pitch, where a considerable number of pitches are just not up to the required standard  yet, and some even unusable so to avoid disappointment read on.

Again I thank Mechelle for her great report and I have extracted some still images from the video to make the details of each pitch easier to evaluate.  I have avoided adding too many additional comments and have tried to transcribe only those made by Mechelle in the video.  So it remains a true on the spot report..

 

“Taps still not working” “general area at car park  “Sparkling water supplied”

CLICK ANY IMAGE TO START SLIDE SHOW!

 

Pitch 1 – Video Counter  13:16

“Pitch 1 is a swamp”   “would not want to pitch on that”

 

 

Pitches 2 and 3 not reviewed

 

Pitch 4 – Video Counter 12:58

“They look campable”

“Looks all right”

 

Pitch 5 – Video Counter 12.33

Same as 4,

 

Pitches 6 and 7 not reviewed

 

Pitch 8 – Video Counter 11.55

Of disabled pitches 8 and 9 in general: !maybe they are out the question, ….they are level, ……but I personally wouldn’t personally want to camp on it”

“Pitch number 8 is flat, nice but right on the walkway, swampy(surrounding)” “Plastic surface”

 

 

Pitch 9  – Video Counter10:30

“I assume grass still has to grow” Hard plastic surface on disabled pitch 9

!they are level, but I personally wouldn’t personally want to camp on it”

 

Entrance to disabled pitch 9  “But look, would you really want to camp on that”

 

Pitch 10 – Video Counter 11.02

“Swampy, if you’re looking at the map, better to come and see pitches first”

“Never ever book pitch 10, unless you want to be waterlogged, …..swampy”

Water course running down beside pitch 8 feeding into pitch 10

 

Pitch 11  see Video Counter 14:27  –  “Alright but really, really bumpy”

“Party Tent, They had stopped by 5 in the morning, ……shouting between tents and flashing torches, still going on at 2 am, …..noise last night from that particular tent was quite bad”

No Image

 

 

Pitch 12 see Video Counter 14:28

” Don’t know how you could actually pitch on it”,

“unless you had a tiny 1 or 2 man tent”, ” it’s not even, even to walk on, really bumpy”

 

 

 

 

Pitch 13 Video Counter 15:10

“Bumpy”, “like they’ve just took a strimmer and cut it back”

 

Pitch 14  Video Counter  16:06

“It’s alright, it would fit our tent at least, quite flat”

 

Pitch 15  Video Counter 16:20

” Tiny, not very grassy and a bit dark, they’re not bad!”

 

Pitch 16  –  Video Counter  18:18

“Pitch 16 That’s alright….  not bad ….  a bit muddy”

 

 

 

Pitch 17  Video Counter  18:50

“That’s just a mess,”  That’s depressing”

[Ross]Official Pitch 17 at end of path is unsuitable, continuously wet and bramble filled.
[Ross] As Mechelle points out Possibly a new but smaller area being cleared further down the slope

Pitch 18 Video Counter 19:25

“Nice, not too muddy”, “18’s alright, 18’s fine”

 

Pitch 19 Video Counter 21:07

there’s no’ a bit of grass, there’s holes, you could maybe get a tent on there, but for a big tent your snookered”.

 

Pitch 20  Video Counter 20:28

“All tree roots, it’s not even flat, it’s on a slope, quite a bad one, a wee tiny tent, you could maybe get away with”.

 

Pitch 21  Video Counter  22:06

This is a nice big pitch, It’s perfect with a your ain wee bit to the loch

New logs cut from tree behind?

 

[Ross]Pitch 21 up there with the best camping in the park, and typical of so many loch shore sites that have been removed from access, with possibly another 6 pitches of different sizes of this standard going unused at this site alone……. See Video for all comments and other views of this pitch.

Pitch 22 Video Counter 21:30

“That’s Fine! and recommended

Pitch 23 also fine and recommended not shown

 

Pitch 24 Fine and recommended —

 

Pitch 25  Video Counter  17:14

 

Nice and close to the loch with path directly from pitch.

 

[Ross]Standing water to the LH edge of the pitch limits it’s size,

 

Pitch 26  Video Counter 16:54

“Looks alright, nice and level at least”

Muddy entrance to Pitch 26

 

All photo & video  credits to Mechelle Rafferty

So Check out the full video for a walk through and some other observations.

July 18, 2017 Ross MacBeath No comments exist

Loch Chon now coming into the high season and the old adage springs to mind, never time to do it right but always time to do it over as the National Park give it another go with pitch surfaces.

Though the majority of these issues have been in the public eye for some months the Park Authority and their planning team have failed to take action. I have reproduced a complaint asking for enforcement action to be taken against the Park Authority, which I am told will be investigated after the holidays,  Meantime the Park Authority have at last sprung into action correcting as many of the pitch issues, a predictable reaction and the first sign of any progress for some time. The relative success of some of these modifications are the subject of another review due on Thursday 20th July ’17.


 

Dear Planning Enforcement Officer / Head of Planning

Our ref: snpa17/041 16/07/17

Complaint regarding handling of the camping development at Loch Chon

It is disappointing that by the end of June, 4 months after the opening of the development at Loch Chon 2016_0151 that Planning Authority has not carried out a site inspection of the £350,000+ development in a sensitive ancient woodland that has received so much bad publicity. Add to that the fact the Board has made a site visit before the 13th March and the Building Control certificate was issued on the 31st of march presumably with involvement of the Applicant constituting a second site visit which surely must have raised the concerns from those who are members of the Park Authority and also in the Planning Committee.

It is clear there are major failings with the development, and a I believe a number of these are attributed to failings of your own planning office in not providing suitable scrutiny of the application and it’s subsequent delivery. Many of these failings were highlighted as likely outcomes by members of the public and other organisations during the consultation process but the planning committee assured us they were satisfied the applicants proposal was sound and that the outcome would be as detailed in the application and supporting presentation. It is clear this is not the case.

I have listed here a series of breaches of the planning consent that you have granted Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park Authority.

These planning contraventions and issues are not limited to this list and so I request you take up an enforcement stance to pursue the applicant, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Authority, and force them to complete the works and other obligations agreed to in the planning consent and make good any contraventions of said consent to an acceptable standard especially in respect of the provision of a safe water supply, the stated number of viable camping pitches and the removal of unauthorised structures, restoration work, and by removal of contamination from the environment within an acceptable time frame.

I would also have expected a test certificate of some sort to show the biological safety of the water supply when it comes on line and the soil system especially as it flows into the loch where park users are swimming and boiling for cooking.

It is clear this restoration work will be difficult as the park authority did not properly retain vegetation removed from the site during path construction works as agreed as primary requirement for granting the consent in the first instance. This is a gross contravention of the terms of consent, leaving a large area to the side of path and road works without restoration.

Further, poor or no control by the Ecological Clerk of Works, has allowed vehicular traffic to roam across the sensitive ecology of the hillside damaging the vegetation and possibly interfering with the flow of water down the slope. The Clerk of Works has failed to control the contractor and it would seem feedback the necessary documentations to make and agree all the material changes at this site which appear to have been carried out without planning oversight. It really raises the question of the attendance of a Clerk of Works on site when these decisions were being made.

Another very worrying event is the removal of public parking spaces from the site after planning was originally consented. This raises some serious ethical questions as to how this change was affected as a Non Material Variation where it clearly affects access rights for the public to the entire site and Loch Chon beyond. This needs to be investigated as it has subverted the terms of the publicly agreed planning consent allowing the applicant to achieve their original aim of excluding public access without further public consultation. The Planning Authority are complicit in this act and it and it is clearly designed to enable the applicant to make the transition from a public utility to a privately run campsite in the future by removing public access at this time. This act also interferes with access rights, by denying vehicle access to previously public areas you are thwarting the public’s right to roam.

Issues arising

1. The bin store sited at the RHS the Ranger Base and Store does not appear on any of the plans for the site and is therefore a breach of planning consent. In addition as it is such a large structure it should not be considered an Non Material Variation as it has a major impact on the efficacy of the site and it’s rural and natural aspect. It seems almost inconceivable that the final purpose of this structure is a bin store and it appears to the casual onlooker that the National Park authority intends to re-task this structure for another purpose. It should therefore be removed and an investigation into it’s erection should commence as a matter of public concern.

2. The containers used for the Rangers Base and the water purification plant do not correspond with the engineering drawings in respect to the size and finish to the end elevations shown in your documentation.

In both instances the doors fitted are taller than those specified which in turn has prevented fitting a wooden facing above them as specified.
In the case of the Ranger Base Store end the door fitted is larger and of a different design with locking bars on the surface which are totally unsuitable as a solution in this sensitive site.

The wood cladding to the exterior of the containers do not conform to the engineering drawings, the posts and concrete ground supports have not been fitted with the cladding being applied to the container surface directly, this contravenes the design specification and the resultant aspect is an industrial container which has no place in this sensitive area.

3. The wood cladding to the exterior of the containers does not conform to the engineering drawings, the posts and concrete ground supports have not been fitted and the cladding has instead be applied to the container surface, this contravenes the design specification and the resultant aspect is an industrial container which has no place in this sensitive area.

The permanent nature that was presented in the original drawings and at the planning consultation meeting have been subverted by removing the concrete embedded posts which suggests the Park Authority as the applicant again have intentionally deceived the planning authority and have an intention to move, remove or in some way alter these structures and have pre-empted that requirement by violating the terms of the planning consent.

This requires investigation. If it is the intention to remove these structures from their position on site and deny access to the public out-with the management season this should have been made clear on the application, in any case the reason for this variation should be established.
It is also strange why the planning authority approved drawings from the applicant which only showed one end elevation, this is highly irregular and also requires explanation.

4. The logs to the side of the Ranger base have prevented proper landscaping of the area underneath and their eventual removal will cause further disruption to the ecosystem, they are an eyesore and should be removed immediately and the area regraded to allow vegetation recovery to continue unhindered.

5. The grading of the ground to provide a low angle rise to the edge of the containers at door entry points has not been carried out at the store, the rangers base and the plant room.

6. The ground works on the site remain unfinished in a number of respects:

a. The seeding of bare soils and restoration works have not been (started ?) completed across the development and the changes at pitches 8 and 9 should have demanded seeding of the soil pitch surface, soil being an unacceptable medium for pitching tents. Path edges, large area adjacent to ranger base and car park surrounds are being left to self seed which is failing and the seeding schedule agreed should be carried out immediately.

Undocumented changes to pitch surfaces comprising aggregate and sand have been created without consent, this sand finish is an abomination, wet or dry, this grit sticks to feet and hands to be carried into the tent causing discomfort and nuisance. It may be possible to mitigate where seeding with grass would bind the sand together and provide the required surface finish.

On walk around, overspill of hardcore at corners and junctions of the road/path network is evident in many locations, nature has overtaken and hidden the less serious instances allowing the applicant to get away without restoring the original vegetation, but there remains many areas of concern that require remedial action. It is not sufficient just to allow the self seeding of natural grasses to eventually mask the building material contamination the planning consent called for proactive restoration using reserved material and seeding and a general level of care to ensure building materials did not contaminate the site. This requirement has just not been met.

Of course the stated reseeding schedule in the planning application is not without risk and I would expect the planning department and the applicant are well aware that the colour and nature of the recommended seed mix for restoration will not match the natural vegetation in this area perhaps exacerbating the problem. This of course is why the retention of the vegetation removed from paths and other works were so important to the successful restoration of this project and the failure of the planning department to ensure that was done has left ecological damage that may never return to it’s original state. The applicant should take stock of the environmental damage they have caused.

 

On the Path leading to pitch one, there has been no attempt to clear away the hardcore contamination of the surrounding vegetation and no seeding has taken place. No restoration of vegetation along many areas of path and the 4th image shows a failed attempt to remove a hardcore pile dumped on vegetation where a succession of attempts using machines for removal have made matters worse.

Bridge
The bridge solution is a mess. Hardcore is falling into the stream through very poor containment. The expansion of the path at the junction to an unacceptable width with hardcore marring the natural ground and vegetation cover without attempted restoration.
The protruding pipe of the culvert should have a natural stone surround wall in a development such as this. The solution provided is not suitable for a flagship development in a National Park where even a pub in Tyndrum can provide a stone faced wall to a piped culvert.

The nature of this slope down to the river is an unnecessary hazard, it would be far better with a retaining wall and a vertical drop to the river where danger is apparent, this solution it invites children to play on what is effectively a scree slope and once a slip begins the outcome is inevitable.

Attempts at restoring vegetation over this hardcore has been made since this image was taken it is a piecemeal approach an as can be seen from the other side, where no attempt has been made to grade in the edges of the road and vegetation as required and no seeding.
The other side of the bridge has similar issues with attempted soil and vegetation replacement, how successful this will be, depends on the on going availability of water to the root system which may be an issue in dry weather. Monitoring of this area should continue to ensure the applicant provides a suitable long term solution should this restoration attempt fail.

Restoration to damage caused by relocation of pitches
Restoration works to areas damaged by LLTNPA through agreed and non agreed changes

have not been completed using the vegetation that should have been retained for such purposes. Paths and pitches positioned wrongly and subsequently removed have not been restored to their former condition.

Pitch 10, the original stub path has been removed and not restored leaving this water filled hole contaminated with hardcore.

Pitch 12 the original stub path has been removed and not restored leaving a hole and some hardcore in the environment.

d. Areas of cross contamination where building materials have been dumped in the environment and left exposed, e.g. just uphill from the bridge on the toilet block side, these materials should never have been left on site and should be removed prior to proper restoration and seeding.

e. The use of grit (course sand consistency) as a pitch surface over quartz pebble was never and should not have been agreed, it’s an abomination in a campsite and has been used by the applicant to hide material problems. It has been deposited over peat/moss wet areas, steep slopes and bramble patches to mask the underlying issues Pitches 6, 14, 15 and 19 are affected and the resultant mess in the ecosystem is unacceptable environmental destruction and a horrible visitor experience as a paid for pitch surface which in all cases should be grass..

 

f. The finish to the roads is abysmal, and it would appear they do not conform to what is detailed in the original specification, there is an expectation another material would provide the final finish over the hardcore base. It is also reasonable to expect a new road would not be pot holed and have 1” to 4″ hardcore strewn over the road way and spreading on to the grass verges. There has been no attempt to restore the exploratory hole dug down to the water pipe which can be seen just above centre on the RHS image.

g. The slope between the bridge and the water purification building has had sand/grit, used for pitch surfaces and path infill dumped to the side of the road together with other materials.
The extraneous building material appear in a number of locations on site and it is clear the applicant is just waiting for nature to grow over them instead of removing them as per terms of the planning consent to prevent cross contamination in a sensitive area. This contamination should never have taken place if the Ecological Clerk of Works had been present to monitor the work.

 

6. The documentation from SEPA which has been removed from the idox system for public viewing stated that the paths between the road and pitch one should be flush with the surrounding terrain the paths created by LLTNPA are not flush in all places, where hardcore has been laid on top on the existing vegetation with and without a membrane, this is in breach of the planning consent and the recommendations from SEPA regarding interference with drainage of the flood plain. I would think it is also highly undesirable to use woodchips, a floating material, in a flood plain.

7. Transverse Paths created on the hill side are floating in wet weather having been laid over peat or moss substrate, these paths should have been dug out at the affected areas and consolidated to provide a firm surface. The arrows show position on this image, at the other corner of the path where it turns down hill the same spongy surface exists. The top section of the path loop at pitch 18, 19 and 20 swinging back down towards pitch 17 is affected in places.

The central arrow in this image shows a channel created by the appicant in peat. This should be in filled to stop a new water course being created. The Applicant has destroyed the moss ecosystem in a large triangle from the bridge to the tree in the foreground and failed to restore the surface leaving grasses to encroach on what should be moss. The eco system here has been irreversibly destroyed.

Going further along this transverse path it is clear the path has interfered with the flow of water down the slope the ground immediately uphill from the path is wetter and in rainy weather fills with water which eventually overflows the barrier formed by the path crossing it in a number of locations.

There is also a spongy area on the path just down hill from the corner that according to planning consent should be corrected. The path where it turns back downhill is particularly affected, water crosses the path and flows down it’s side until it finds an easier route down into pitch 17 where it maintains the permanent wet aspect of this pitch. (see appendix A) Even before the path was created the location of pitch 17 was fed from the water coming downhill in a natural water course, the path has merely created a second route for water delivery.

This image also demonstrates the cross contamination of hardcore onto the surrounding ecology.

8. Many of the pitches remain poor quality, and while a few will respond to continuous hard strimming they are still hampered by a poor site on slopes.  Others have flaws which are caused by their positions in water courses [10, 17], or beside standing water [26] and/or dense vegetation . The light touch proposed by the applicant is a nonsense and no more than an excuse for doing little or nothing. These plants affecting pitches are voracious and require severe methods of control where brambles will grow 3 inches in a day it is obvious that removal is the only real option, the park have not chosen to to go down that route and have tried instead to cover over with sand and aggregate.

The last problem with the site is the size of pitches, The applicants own research shows demand for camping is predominantly from families requiring pitches to handle family sized tents and area around the tent to allow occupants to relax, sit and cook in the area with a fire-pan a safe distance from the tent the pitch size at this site does not reflect the demand

The planning department have failed to regulate the design of these pitches allowing the applicant to place a dot on a map clearly without first surveying the land properly resulting in the majority of pitches being created on sloping sites, small constrained areas, water logged sites and sites of dense vegetation including brambles. This failure is responsible for the large number of pitch problems at this development but more importantly it has allowed the applicant to mislead the public and stakeholders that this hillside location was suitable for creating camping provision in the first place.

The selection of slopes for pitches is not acceptable above a few degrees as anyone sleeping on a mat will side down the slope, the small size of pitches makes it impossible to fit a tent in some cases never mind align the tent to the slope, effectively making the pitch unusable. There are also other considerations when camping that are impacted by pitch size, in poor weather the longitudinal axis of the tent should be aligned with wind direction and the door placed to the lea side, this is not possible to accomplish on a small oblong pitch and is important in exposed sites such as Loch Chon.

Because proper confirmation of each pitch layout was not sought by the planning department, the Park Authority have sized pitches based on the footprint of a tent and failed to consider that a tent requires approximately 4 times that area to accommodate guy lines alone and then an absolute minimum of 4 times that combined area again to accommodate the occupants and the area for cooking, seating, relaxing and a fire pan at a safe distance from the tent.

At the public planing meetings to discuss the nature of the site the applicant misled the public into believing this site would be in the same class as Sallocy. The nature of the site could never support this comparison as the original pitches on the shore of Loch Chon were specifically excluded so the site could support day visitors on the shore locations. On March 1st 2017, the only pitch on the entire site that is acceptable without any issues was pitch 21 on a shore location which pre existed the development. The applicants fantasy that suitable pitch surfaces would be achieved by simply “scraping” the area has been born out as unachievable. Any attempts to scrape out with the intention to level a slope would result a water sump and so it never was a reasonable solution but one that was pursued to overcome objections at the planning stage.

a. Many of these ancient and natural woods on the west coast of Scotland are technically temperate rain forests due to the high rainfall, While previous developments at Loch Chon have disturbed the nature of the site it still did not and does not lend it’self for campsite conversion on the scale implemented, more than 3 times larger than the site previously handled.

It is clear that the popular areas of the park previously used, have been selected by park users on the basis of their suitability for camping, flat, level, grass covered and loch side locals usually on fluvial plains which are on the whole drier than the surrounding wooded areas. The applicants decision to exclude the existing loch side pitches from camping (except pitch 21) presumably to maintain an area for day visitors to use, and then exclude day visitors from parking by changing the agreed consent is a travesty leaving 8 – 10 pitches on site that are basically unusable and another number not up to the stated “Internationally-renowned National Park Experience”

b. Further, as you should now be aware, pitches cannot be created in a single season and together these are the primary failures in understanding camping in the park. Good sites are created by nature and found by campers and then naturalised over time by constant use in popular loch shore locations, nothing less will do. As far as forest locations are concerned they are few and far between where rainforest and commercial forests do not provide viable camping as a rule.

9. The lighting bulkheads do not comply with the dark skies initiative I would have thought that would have been a prerequisite for all lighting in the park but more especially in a location away from other light contamination where the benefits of such fittings would make a real difference.

The lighting has been recessed into the wood cladding since this image was taken but that has no material effect on light pollution of the sky and hillside opposite.

10. The Toilet block water supply has not been fully operational since the site opened on the 1st March 2017 on the very small number of days the site had toilets and wash hand basins operating at the same time as the drinking water supply were hampered by very low pressure where even the timed shut off on the drinking water taps would not activate.

The applicants camping booking system states the site has no drinking water, although currently
the drinking water for this site is supplied via 330ml plastic bottles issued free to park users. This is unacceptable and so far the applicant has failed to explain why they are not taking steps to correct the error with the water intake pipe and reposition it further upstream with a suitable reservoir. Their are also reports that sparkling water has been supplied in error.

This is a very serious breach in planning consent and raises a lot of of other issues of health and safety where the water supply is so tenuous. Effective dish washing cannot take place in the trough provided using 330 ml bottles of water.

Intake Port.
The original drawings which you have removed from your system showed the water intake upstream from it’s current location as shown here, it is clear that this was the intended position due to pipe clips and small rock built dam.
Due to a failure of the planning department to insist on construction drawings detailing the construction of the necessary reservoir or header tank, or the selection of a suitable natural alternative, to guarantee a sufficient head of water to operate the system, the applicant was not constrained. Their contractor fitted the intake pipe, in good faith, at a location that was later to prove unsuitable as the water level in the stream dropped in dry weather leaving the intake above the water level. This was however the location agreed in the planning consent and it would seem no proper evaluation or calculations of the technical requirements for the intake were carried out to support this location, not least the need to be underwater.

The diagram illustrates the issue

The Park Authority then went ahead and made further changes without consent or informing the planning authority it would seem, as the absence of documents in the idox system suggests.

The new location for the intake port is under the culvert, I would think a wholly unsuitable location due to it interfering with the requirement to have a smooth unimpeded surface in the culvert to stop build up of debris.

The resultant head of water has been reduced by a meter or so exacerbating the situation where this reservoir needs to be placed upstream to increase water pressure.

The interference of water flow in a culvert is also undesirable and is surly a matter for SEPA where the inevitable build up of debris behind the dam will cause problems.

The moving of the intake pipe downhill is in breach of planning consents as an NMV would not be adequate to cover a change requiring calculations and of water heads and pressures at the output of the sterilisation system.
Of course there is the complication of the inspection chamber and tank close to the Ranger base and questions to whether or not that is a sealed chamber, The uses of the pump that was reportedly retrofitted should have overcome any head issues but seemingly has not. It’s time the applicant made the issues public and gave timescales for reparations.

 

11. Other structures are appearing on site, this one in the form of communal seating area close to pitch

12. this areas look to be constructed by Park Rangers and are a contravention of the planning consent.

Pitch 12 on the other hand is so small there is no space for a family tent and seating in the same area. It’s concerning with one of the main justifications for creating management zones being fire rings that the Park Authority are permitting fires in the eco system.

That is not to say that a communal seating area is not desirable, in a properly planned camping site. This provision should be a feature at every pitch and that is certainly true of the pitches here at Loch Chon where many have no room for occupants or even seating and cooking nearby.

That said, it should have been the subject of proper planning consent. The Park Authority obviously believe planning requirements do not apply to their projects and proceed to do what ever they wish without challenge. Pitches 8, 9, 10, 12 14, 15 are modified and/or relocated and for the most part to small to contain tents and occupants comfortably for their intended use, 8 and 9 being disabled pitches.

The use of woodchips was the subject of much concern and we can now see it being carried by feet from the paths across the pitch sites and the ecosystem beyond. The rediculous “postage stamp” bark paths to pitches 4, 5, 12 and others serve no purpose and should be removed.

That is a summary of the problems and issues at this site.

A number of pitch issues were included in the original communication. These have not been reproduced here.

What I require to happen to resolve my complaint.

The Planning Authority should take up and enforcement position and ensure the applicant complies with the original planning consent in all respects. Particularly with a view to removing structures, especially the bin store, and others that do not form part of the original planning consent and restoration of the ecosystem to it’s original state.

The Planning Department should investigate and explain how with all the checks and balances alluded to in the planning application including oversight of an environmental Clerk of Works, that this poor outcome and environmental damage was permitted to continue without feedback, and agreements from the Clerk of Works were not a feature of the development as was clearly stated as a requirement in the consents.

They should also explain and/or investigate the following:

1. Removal of parking spaces after the agreed consent and public debate.
2. Failure to visit the site and enforce the contraventions from planning consent.
3. Failure to insist on a hydrology report for the stream.
4. Failure to insist the applicant provided detailed drawings with all elevations for the containers and in particular the details of the position and nature of the the water intake including calculations of water pressure achievable.
5. Failure to insist on details of pitch locations, slope, vegetation and size suitable to take tents their occupants and equipment, this after all being the primary purpose of the development.
6. Failure to monitor the progress on site at a stage where intervention would have prevented many of the issues we now have at the end of the project.
7. Failure to monitor the storage of restoration vegetation and the reinstatement of the site.
8. Failure to enforce breaches in planning consent where the Applicant is LLTNPA.

The Planning department have consented to a 26 pitch camping site a Loch Chon and the applicant has not delivered 26 pitches that are viable for camping upon.

The planning department should enforce the provision of 26 viable pitches together with the necessary drinking water supply as a mater of urgency as we are entering the peak season and paying customers have no dish washing facilities and drinking water from 330 ml bottles. The Park Authority has stated on their booking system that drinking water is not available and that in itself that should precipitate closure of the site.

A report on tree removal and damage cannot be carried out at this time as the tree protection plan has been removed from the idox system.

The planning authority should immediately reverse it’s decision to hide documentation on the idox system preventing public scrutiny of LLTNPA projects so hiding any failure to concur with it’s planning consents. The agreement of consent is only the start of the project not the end these inconsistances seem to favour Park Authority Projects.

Further the planning department should identify the creation date of documents so clarity of the audit trail can be established and monitored and documents should have this information in their meta data. The use of a “date posted” is it would seem the date the documents are made visible to the public it is meaningless in the audit trail as the documents are retrospectively uploaded.
All of these anomalies present a ethical problems in the planning system where the true nature of dates and documentary evidence of the planning procedure are being intentionally obfuscated.

This is a breach of your own standards of openness and transparency and it precipitates the question why are documents relating to LLTNPA hidden when it is of great public interest to ensure there is a viable and demonstrable separation between the applicant and the planning authority. This is clearly not the case where the applicant is Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park.
Thanking You

Yours faithfully

June 15, 2017 Ross MacBeath No comments exist

ON THE SPOT REPORT

Destruction of the environment continues unabated at accessible popular locations where Rangers are just not in attendance – how is this able to take place at Loch Earn?

 

Criminal damage to loch side trees. two trunks felled.
1. Criminal behaviour continues unabated, with byelaws failing to make any difference.

 

Thank to Mechelle Rafferty for her permission to reproduce her experience as an “On the Spot Report”

Another great example of responsible leave no trace camping at a popular spot on Loch Earn with the now familiar tales of paying visitors having endure the accruing mess left by others and again having to clear up the mess of other non paying litter louts.

Report begins: 3rd June 2017 Loch Earn


 

They were nice enough, two of them, asked if we had a permit. I said no and that we’d only just seen the signs and no internet signal, which was true. So the other one said “I can help with that” and asked if we would be willing to purchase one. So I said yes. One of them gave me his phone and put me through to register details as they can only take card payment, not cash.

 

 

 

To be fair, they were nice enough and only doing their job, one was taking lots of notes and some pictures of further along the shore, as I said we’d went to one shore to camp just along, and one side had rave music blaring from a tent, and another had loads of guys fishing, shouting and swearing and swigging out of cans so we moved on.
It didn’t take long to register details and when I eventually got a signal they email a copy of your permit and advise you screenshot it in case there is no signal.
The following night,(Sunday) we were going to camp elsewhere but decided to go back to Loch Earn, different shore, so I just phoned up for a permit just in case, and again was done in two minutes.

 

Rangers claim lack of manpower is to blame, that was highlighted to the NP before byelaws were brought in to force.

 

I just wish they never caught me half asleep as I wanted to ask things like, what if we book a permit in future, turn up and it’s full of non permit holders, as no one came round on the Friday, Sunday or Monday, or the last time we were there, and what if there’s mess left after we leave the place clean, although I told them I always take before, during and after pics and videos anyway, and what about the day trippers, who were leaving rubbish, building fires and just leaving them etc, and chopping down and burning live trees?

 

So I’ll be more aware should they come round again. I don’t grudge the £3 per tent, it’s the principle of it.

 

I did ask if anyone had had the £500 fine, but as it’s new, not so far although folk refusing to give details or buy a permit and they openly said they don’t have the manpower to police it.

 

 

Here’s some of the mess at all three shores, A, B AND C before we left on Monday, plus we had to tidy up some too. The first two are two of our “leave no trace” pics.

 

Here’s a wee video of our story about the permits and rangers at Loch Earn and our leave no trace at the end. There’s a bit music in it that suits the neds so due to copyright might not play on a mobile device. I always take before, during and after pics of every single camp

 

 


Report Ends

Thanks Mechelle for that very interesting report it makes a lot of very important points and equally raises many questions that need to be answered.

Additional observations by Ross MacBeath

The threat of criminal charges is ruining the Visitor Experience

 

Both Mechelle’s and the views expressed in the previous posts demonstrates that visitors feel threatened by the ever present possibility of prosecution for littering and environmental damage they are not responsible for creating, so much so they feel compelled to take “before and after” photographs from their visit as evidence.

 

 

June 1, 2017 Ross MacBeath 4 comments
By Ross MacBeath

Camping provision without parking spaces, pitches you can’t find never mind camp on, and camping permit zones comprising bogs, scrub, briar, rough heath and felled forest all add to the growing list of failures in the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park Authority’s claim to have provided  new camping places, not just in Forest Drive but Park wide (as illustrated in Nick Kempe’s post yesterday on Firkin Point)

 

Then consider if Forest Drive is suitable at all as a location for 72  of the 300 camping pitches the Park promised to provide when the gates are locked at 4 pm and don’t open again until  9 am the following morning.   In effect none of these pitches are available to anyone who has not taken an extra half or full days leave on the first day of their holiday or weekend.

 

This is repeated at Loch Chon and other gated sites where the very few toilets available in the Park are locked when Rangers go home in the evening if there have  been no bookings.  This can be as early as 4pm,  forcing all visitors to go in the bushes, a criminal offense if they are not in possession of a trowel.

** Currently  26 Forest Drive  pitches are missing from the booking system!

 

Forest Drive Zone L, replacing a desirable loch shore as a place to camp

 

In past years, before access rights,  the Forestry Commission provided an excellent permit zone for a number of tents just opposite what is now Permit Zone L

The grassy loch shore was perfect for camping and suitable for families and multiple groups.  A small portion of it is shown here.

 

That is all gone as far as camping is concerned – camping along the shore is now banned, though there is a bay for a motorhome on the shore side of the road, and has been replaced by a zone located within the forest.

 

The First view of Zone L is not really encouraging with rough ground and slopes

The LLTNPA claimed 9 places were available to camp here from 1st March.

Damage to sign perhaps by some disgruntelled visitor who was mis sold this site

 

Large areas of debris cover the forest floor, steep slopes and rough ground with thick vegetation, all make this area unsuitable for camping. As hard to believe as it might be, this is a accurate description of the entire zone ‘L’

It would appear already that some disgruntled visitor has taken offence at being duped by the LLTNPA into paying for this site and took it out on the sign.

 Click here to review the full image set

Misleading maps, poor parking provision and no where to go

 

The map shows a large camping area which one might have thought offers plenty of places to camp but this bears no resemblance to the truth. The 9 pitches claimed simply do not exist, and the motor home space at the parking opposite takes up to 8 meters of the lay by, allowing space for a further 2 cars, 3 at a push if one noses in off road.

The shore frontage here is popular with Forest Drive day visitors and fishermen so it and the layby fills up quickly.  Quite where the additional 9 cars that campers require are going to park is a mystery..

 

Apart from lack of parking at this site, if nine camping groups ever did book permits, forced to come here by the National Park, they would be driven onto the lochshores as the camping zone itself  provides no incentive to remain in forest after perhaps an initial exploration or search for somewhere to go to the toilet.

 

New disruption to the forest is likely to worsen if operations continue

 

Vehicular entry into forest from track above zone The start of what promises to be a disruptive forestry operation Selective felling means vehicular access to all areas required

Click images to zoom and enter gallery

 

The tracks are an unsightly muddy mess that can be crossed with care you would not really want to get this mess on your feet before entering your tent.

 

While the forestry felling operations are a noisy and destructive intrusion when in progress, they are not really any cause for concern at Zone ‘L’, other than the aftermath of churned up ground, felled wood and trimmings cumulatively denying access to the zone over time as well as other multiple issues with the site:

 

Forest floors in commercial forests are not suitable locations for camping

 

This zone, being part of an active forest, is affected by the usual rotating pattern of felling,  self seeding and natural regeneration which takes place over many years.  This has resulted in a rough inaccessible forest floor across the entire area, often hazardous and strewn with debris from the tree felling and trimming operations.

 

Tree trimmings deny access and interfere with tent pitching The natural reclimation of the previous debris results in and uneven floor Trimming of self seeded growith results in unusable and quite hazerdous areas

 

Hill side locations often hold little camping pitch gems, but not this one

 

Being a hill side location above the loch means the area is predominantly sloping northwards meaning any sun entering has to filter through the canopy  The slopes themselves are unsuitably steep with the areas below them generally wetter with standing water and mosses due to run off from the slopes.

 

Entire slope along the length of forest drive is too steep for camping The zone is undulating and slopes in the zone mossy wet areas below The west border od the zone is the river with steep inaccessable banks

Click on images to zoom

 

Again the question of why these areas are included in a camping zone can only be explained by the Park’s  need to deceive the public and other stakeholders into believing that they have delivered sizable camping provision when in fact the total size of the permit zones in general is much much larger than the miniscule areas in the zones which are suitable for pitching tents (and in this particular zone, which the Park claims provides for 9 tents, has nowhere suitable).

 

Flatter areas are unsuitable with standing water or dense vegetation

 

The slope levels out a bit towards the forestry track, the southerly border of the zone. with some more areas just to the top of the slope from forest drive.

 

Sections of the level floor have self seeded and are inaccessable Typical flatter area where mosses and wet areas abound Flatter areas by the track are exposed to light where bracken and thick grasses can florish

 

The now familiar red paint ring around trees marking them to be retained for self seeding while others are harvested.  This is a very successful method of forest growth and much of the forest floor has self seeded with the result they are unsuitable for tents.  This, in combination with wet mosses and other thick vegetation where sunlight penetrates the forest canopy, make the greater zone unsuitable for access, never mind camping.

 

Mosse, standing water and ouht ground unsuitable for camping Rough round and debris prevent pitching tents It's just impossible to camp in this zone, in seasom it will be a midge ridden hell hole

 

Standing water and shade makes this an ideal breading environment for midges, the dense vegetation, high humidity and detritus from trees provides insulation for the overwintering of midge larvae and nymphs ensuring a thriving population the following summer.

 

Popular loch shore locations are “popular” because of the short grasses and sunny aspects which in themselves give some some relief from the midge during warm sunny or windy days, especially where tree cover is minimal. But the main reason they are so popular is because they are pleasant places to spend a weekend,  particularly if you want to do no more than throw a Frisbee, run around the tent with the kids or cool off in the loch.

 

I love forests, even commercial forests such as this.  To me they are as interesting as they are beautiful.  What’s more there are many locations throughout the country where forest camping can be enjoyed on a dry flat forest floor with a carpet of leaf or pine needles, with great views or in sunny clearings.  This is just not one of them.

 

The LLTNPA’s war against visitors continues

 

It seems the LLTNPA have continued to wage war against visitors by providing the most atrocious areas for pitching tents available in the National Park, claiming they match the camping zone selection criteria.  This zone matches a few:

 

  1. It’s Forestry Commission Land so it’s available,
  2. It has no adverse impact on the environment as it’s a commercial forest
  3. It has fishing close by as a recreational activity

 

It matches no other criteria.  In fact the National Park don’t even list “suitability for camping” as a prerequisite for choosing a site and that fact is aptly demonstrated by Zone L.

 

There are no suitable areas in this entire zone that would constitute a worthwhile camping experience.  The evidence here (and at Loch Chon (see here)) gives the lie to the latest propaganda video from the LLTNPA which tries to portray itself as pro-camping and doing positive things for campers. The LLTNPA appear to think by inventing their new term the “wild camping experience”, to further muddy the waters for Ministers, then by reclassifying abysmal provision as some sort of innovative wild challenge, that the public will accept what they are offering as an alternative to camping on the loch shores.  That is just not going to happen.. Taken together with their failure to create new parking spaces for the 14 or so cars that could use this site speaks volumes for the LLTNPA’s contempt for paying customers.

 

In the end it’s not just Forest Drive that’s going to suffer, though the Forestry Commission Scotland  is in danger of losing it’s reputation built up over the past 40 years.  The Forest Drive permit area is starting to damage the reputation of our National Parks System and the Scottish Tourist industry itself.

 

It’s high time Sports Scotland, Visit Scotland and Scottish National Heritage intervened and stopped the rot.

 

What the National Park Authority needs to do!

 

Remove the zone as it stands from the booking system and let people camp once more in the original camping zone on the loch shore opposite provided by the Forestry Commission where the old signs are still in place. This has space for 3 or 4 tents to camp comfortably but needs further parking to allow campers, day visitors and fishermen to enjoy the loch shore.

 

Original permit zone provoded by the Forestry Commission

May 26, 2017 Ross MacBeath 3 comments

By Ross MacBeath

Loch Chon infrastructure

Driving along the B829 where trees are coming into full boom after the recent rain, the greater area of natural woodlands has greened up with mosses and other vegetation moving into their main growing season. Nowhere is this more obvious that at the Loch Chon site where easy access to the ancient woodland has been opened up with the campsite paths.  Here nature is fighting back after the trauma of machinery driving  unchecked over the hillside (see here) but even she can’t erase the scar of sterile (perhaps treated) forest bark at the approach to almost every camping pitch in the site.  An act of wanton environmental damage inflicted for no good reason in this sensitive eco-system.

 

 

On arriving at the gate, happy to see it open after previous experiences, we were met with an unfinished road surface.  At least I hope it’s unfinished with it’s uneven potholed surface, strewn with loose hardcore.

 

Expectations dashed by first impressions

 

The good news is the bin store is complete, the bad news is its a 2.7 metre high structure which dominates the vista.  It doesn’t even have a maze to hide the 6 or so bins now in place, remaining in full view from the car park opposite.   This is bin overkill, even if the Park’s projected 90% occupancy of the campsite should ever prove to be true, its too high, and an unnecessary intrusion in this natural setting.

 

Ranger Base and non compliant bin store
This image was taken 10th April 2017, Note:green bins now in store, 13/05/2017

It would  have made so much more sense to position the bins beside the toilets (rather than the office), where they would be more convenient for campsite users, but campers have never been a priority in this development.

 

Perhaps it’s more important for the refuse collectors to save the additional few hundred metres drive than to hide this monstrosity out of the way.  It’s a disastrous first impression of the site and is not what was discussed at preliminary meetings with the local community.

 

The bin store is not on the plans – a Breach of Planning Consent?

Following the granting of planning permission,  National Park planning staff granted a Non Material Variation to the plans.  Neither the original plans or the letter mention a bin store or any other structure at this location – the document NMV decision letter final refers.


The ‘S’ on the plan indicates the location of the Ranger Base/Store container.

 

 

Well there you have it.   The National Park Authority have breached their own planning consent while as the Planning Authority, they have so far failed to any take enforcement action.  In fact I have found out that the Planning Authority have not even made a compliance check on this planning application.  A surprising oversight for a £350k plus project which is a sensitive development in ancient woodland.

It seems the Park Authority also grant themselves special dispensation when it comes to planning compliance.

 

Containers!   Plunging our National Parks into mediocrity

 

Next door to the bins, the Ranger Base as it is affectionately known, is just a container or, more correctly 1/2 a container, the other 1/2 being a store for fire pits, wood and other sundries.  Currently it also serves as the main drinking water supply cupboard, more of which shortly.

 

Nevertheless the Ranger Base is a home from home and surely much appreciated by the overworked rangers traveling in from afar.  What with all their new enforcement duties it must give them time to reflect on what being a Ranger is really about.  It’s reminiscent of a sales office at a housing development, probably because that’s what it was.  The Park really should give priority  to toning down the white wall and the clinical door – its as if the National Park Board, whose members apparently visited the site, have decided that rural charm has no longer any place in our National Parks.

 

The container shows it’s true nature and it’s not natural – Fail

 

The last memory of your camping experience as you leave this site is this view of the office (below),  a shipping container more at home in Tilbury docks, than a sympathetic camping development.  It’s another one in the eye for the National Park’s Marketing Department.

 

 

It’s another breach in planning consent – Fail

This end elevation in the photo above is very different to the elevation shown in the engineering drawings for this container contained in the plans.  It did seem odd at the time the planning department allowed a drawing to be approved on their system that showed only one end elevation, not both, a very unusual situation.  What was not shown  is what we see here, a considerably larger and obtrusive industrialised door. The more cynical among us could be forgiven for believing this omission from the plans was not accidental.

 

Other apparent breaches of the planning consent in respect of the containers include: the construction method of the cladding, which is not mounted as shown in the plans; the omission of the concrete embedded posts from all containers on the site; and the hardcore which has not been graded to form a rise in ground to door level.

 

Site uncompleted – Fail

 

What is wrong with the Park Authority?    It would seem they lack the commitment to finish anything to do with this project and it is the local community and park users that have to put up with the mediocre result.

 

Why are the logs in the image above still lying on site, they interfere with the vegetation regrowth and will result in another bare patch when removed?  If they must be stored, do it on hard standing, better still in the Forestry Commission car park along the road.

 

Many of the pitches remain unusable, or just too small with slope remaining a problem as does wet or rough ground.

 

Talking of bare patches it would seem that reseeding work with the specified seed mix has not taken place, this should have been completed before the start of the growing season and should be carried out immediately to provide effective restoration in this season.

 

The use of containers sets a low tone for the whole development  – Fail

 

The design of this development is just not in keeping with the ethos of National Parks.  The LLTNPA really should take a leaf out of the Forestry Commission’s book when it comes to designing quality facilities.

 

Toilets

 

Compare the toilet block in Forest Drive which, when you see it, looks right to the abysmal containers at Loch Chon which have poor visual appeal and lower the tone of an otherwise beautiful woodland setting. It’s depressing to see Scottish Tourism dragged down on the world stage.

 

Forestry Commission – Shelter & Charm LLTNPA  – Containers, no shelter no charm

The Forestry Commission’s rustic solution to toilet blocks, shown on the left hand image was the preferred style choice at Strathard community meetings and what most people would wish to see in our National Park, in stark contrast to the “industrial” containers the Park Authority favours. It’s time the Park Authority started listening to its Partners instead of running roughshod over them.

 

The Park Authority’s  choice shows a lack of commitment to the success of this project.  The temporary nature of the installation means it can be moved to another site if required, or taken away in the winter,  a fact alluded to at the community consultations by Gordon Watson their Chief Executive.   This has been given precedence over all other design requirements with dire consequences.

 

The toilet blocks are containers like the ranger station, with high security metal doors to each “cell” opening in direct view of the car park opposite, offering no privacy to users. This is surely a breach of regulations.

 

No shelter for toilets queues in wet and windy weather  – Fail

 

Then the Park Authority’s failure to provide anything in the way of shelter is a serious design fault.  No consideration has been given to the needs of visitors who find themselves caught in the rain when all toilets are occupied, with nowhere to take cover.  Getting soaked  to the skin is difficult to recover from when camping and should be avoided.  At very least a canopy should have been provided across a widened gap between the two containers but of course what was really required was some forethought and a custom designed visitor toilet block with some visitor friendly features instead of this minimalist offering.

 

One camper remarked in its defence, “it’s not too bad” and that sums up the aspirations of the current National Park Board for new developments, “Not too Bad”.  Sadly at this site,  they’re often failing to achieve even that.

 

Dark Skies a Project to which the Park Authority just pays lip service – Fail

 

The inappropriate plastic bulkhead light fittings have been chosen with no consideration of the specification laid out in International Dark-Sky Association guidelines that the National Park claim to be promoting (see here).   The Park Authority are failing to make capital of this ideal site located away from any light pollution except for that of their own making.

 

Since the toilet block image (above) was taken, the fittings have been recessed into the wood cladding but still fail to comply with the dark skies requirement.  Light fittings should shade upward light emissions while other light output should be directed downwards by internal reflectors not flooding the hill side opposite and sky as is the case here.

 

Water Supply

The National Parks Chief Chief Executive Gordon Watson continues to preside over the issuing of false information in connection with the availability of drinking water at Loch Chon and the completion status of the site.

This statement is currently posted on the LLTNP blog By on
(see here under the section “Teething Issues”)

 

“Teething issues

Of course, with any new system or facility there will always be snagging issues. At our new Loch Chon campsite, the running water was unavailable for a few days after opening due to a temporary problem with the new connection. We immediately put in place contingency plans for anyone still wishing to camp so that they still had water and toilets at all times. The connection problem was fixed and the hot and cold water is up and running”

 

Then he assures us further down the post

 

“The most important thing is that we are responding quickly to any issues that arise and despite these snags”

 

Clearly the National Park Authority are failing to correct issues in good time.

 

 

Bottled water for drinking and dish washing? – Water supply faulty – Fail.

The National Park Authority first of all claimed the water supply had been working with just a short period out of action, but evidence collected on our many visits show that to be untrue.

The Park have now changed their story to say the contractor provided an external water supply during the period since opening.   On the  6 occasions I have personally visited since the site opened,  on 4 visits there was no drinking water and on 3 no water in the toilets. On another two occasions where a a local resident attended, there was no drinking water.  In total this represents 2 months without a contractor supply and 6 weeks without drinking water.

 

Incredibly on my 6th visit water was being supplied in plastic bottles – which raises the question once more, why?  (see here for recent history of the water issue)

 

In any case to recap on the real problem,  With a reported £100,000 spend, even before planning consent, the hydrology of the stream they chose to use as the water supply should have been monitored over the previous year’s cycle to identify any periods where the stream levels were low or dried up before selecting it as a source. The question needs to asked why would the planning department grant permission for a campsite without a guaranteed water supply?  It’s beyond comprehension.  In fact when you look at the plans, there is no detail of the water intake design or specification for the size of the header tank, reservoir or pool that would be a requirement  for a successful water supply. The upshot has been there is only a trickle of water in the stream in dry spells which goes a long way to explaining the intermittent nature of water supply.

 

 

After each visit I have made, I have pointed out the short comings to the Park who have then modified the installation to mitigate each issue but as of yet have failed to take on board what is required to be done.  After the dry spell at the beginning of May 2017, the water level dropped so low air could be drawn into the intake pipe.  The Park has responded by creating a slightly more substantial dam using sandbags instead of the the pebbles and rocks of the last one.  This is getting them through by the skin of their teeth, providing  unfiltered water for the toilets and wash hand basins but has not provided the solution to the drinking water problem.

I think SEPA should have something to say about interfering with culverts in this way.

 

Intake pipe without strainer – Fail

 

The intake pipe remains open to the flow of water which poses serious risks for debris to enter the system with potential for blockages (see Solution here).

 

The sandbag issue aside, the problem with the water supply is even more serious, it’s a design fault which the Park Authority have been aware of from before the 1st March 2017 but for reasons known only to them have failed to correct. The problem is simple, the intake pipe being below the bridge is effectively underground and the level between the intake and outlet at the taps is too small for water to flow as this diagram explains.

 

Diagram showing principle of water head expaiming pressure loss in system

 

The solution is equally simple,  assuming everything else is equal and no damage has been done to the plant through running it without a water feed.  Raise the intake pipe level by moving it higher.  There is a natural reservoir just upstream at the base of a waterfall, in the form of a pool which provides a natural header tank, something that’s required for all such installations to ensure as continuous supply.  They could of courses go one better and take the feed from above the waterfall giving even more gain in elevation and therefore water pressure.   Campers will just have to wait with baited breath and struggle without effective dish washing using instead 330 ml bottles of water to somehow fill the massive trough of a sink. With no reliable water supply for over three months, questions need to be asked what are the Park Board going to do about it and why have the planning department not enforced this requirement?  What other campsites are allowed to operate without running water?

 

Drawings missing from the Planning Portal

 

Inexplicably a header tank was never a feature of the Park Authorities design.  In fact there is no design for any water supply intake.  There was a reference to the intake location on a previously available drawing which has been removed from the remaining document set (18 documents) on their planning portal, another instance of lack of transparency in this project and indeed with many other Park projects.

 

A new screening fence has been fitted behind the toilets – success!

The protruding tops of sewerage works and other toilet related plumbing is now screened from view hiding the surface installation of inspections chambers which should have been hidden below ground in the first place.

 

Disabled pitches the ongoing saga

 

Disabled Pitch Update – dirt pitch surfaces are not acceptable – Continued Fail

 

Disabled pitches are part of another key Park Authority project promoting access for disabled users to National Park facilities.  Our original post (see here) highlighted the disgraceful  pitches that were provided for disabled access.  This obviously caused alarm bells to ring and improvements were made almost immediately, but how the originals were ever deemed suitable by Park Board members when they visited the site, says something about the Board’s attention to detail or, some might say, total disinterest in the provision of adequate disabled facilities.

 

Dirt surface of disabled pitch 8 very unplesant in the rain
Disabled Pitch 8 13/05/2017, barely able to contain a 3 man tent with unconstrained edges posing hazards

 

The original state of pitch 8, promoted for disabled use together with pitch 9 due to their accessibility  for toilets and car park was disgraceful. (See Video Here)   They were built in a water course cut out from a bramble patch on a wet and muddy area prone to flooding. This modified pitch has been created over the top of that area by building it up on a hardcore plinth with soil covering a hexagonal geo-membrane and provides a marked improvement on the old effort in many ways but fails in an important number of others.

Fail 1:In building up this pitch the edges of the soil  should have been constrained to stop any further spread out over the surrounding vegetation.  Soil spread is already evident through exposure of the plastic mesh which is creating a trip hazard.  Further, the edge of the pitch drops off rapidly close to the tent entrance and again poses a real risk of tripping or falling down the slope.

 

Fail 2 – as with so many other pitches  in this development, this pitch is just too small, for disabled users, some of whom may need a larger tent for access or to take a wheelchair or other aids inside. Here we see a 3 man tent pushed to the back and side edges of the pitch so it will fit and still leave room to get in and out. With table and chairs filling the remainder of the pitch, the fire pan and additional seating have had to go on the path on the other side of the tent.  This is effectively the largest tent this pitch will take and even then it is cramped.  This makes the pitch useless for a larger tent suitable for families.

 

Fail 3 – This tent has been erected without the use of guy lines which has only been possible because its a self supporting tent.  Of course not using guy lines is unusual as they are important for the stability of the tent structure and a necessity in the wind where damage to the tent and poles can occur if not tensioned properly with the possibility of the tent being blown away.   Fitting guy lines at this pitch is problematic due to the hard core path to the side and front of the tent and the area to the back of the tent is the diverted water course making pegging out difficult if not impossible at times.
The other issue of course is that guy lines impede the movement of people around the pitch particularly in  the case of a disabled user with a wheel chair.or requiring assistance to get in and out of the tent  So the small size of this pitch is of serious concern and brings into questions it’s suitability as a easy access pitch pitch.for disabled users.

 

Fail 4: It is now well over a month since this “improved pitch surface” was provided to pitches 8 and 9 and they have not been seeded with the recommended seed mix stated in the planning application, This pitch should have a grass surface not dirt.  The occupants of the tent in the above image explained heavy rain over night and early morning  wet the dirt surface resulting in it being carried into the tent on muddy foot wear.

 

Pitch 9 as the second pitch assigned for disabled and easy access and is only a little better.

 

Pitch 9l It'sdirty hard surface remains unseeded and unsuitable for use

 

Other than the fact it’s is easier to peg out guy lines as it sits back from the path.  The dirt surface remains a problem carrying a muddy mess into the sleeping area in wet weather but has also compressed below the level of the Geo-membrane leaving an unsuitably hard surface for pitching a tent.

 

Perforation of the tent base is likely while the resultant surface is also very uncomfortable making it both painful to kneel on this surface and creating a risk of physical injury.

 

As before the pitch is too small for anything more than a three man tent.mitigated some what by the fact there is other ground around for occupants..

 

This path also fails to comply with the planning consent, the aggregate should not be spread over vegetation and it should be be bounded by a seeded, graded soil bank to allow it to blend in with the land scape.

 

What needs to be done.

  • As a matter of urgency the planning enforcement team need to visit this site and make the applicant comply with the planning consent.
  • Complete snagging – the snagging list is sizable.
  • Correct water supply as a matter of urgency. The Park Authority need look no further than this simple solution at the Cononish Goldmine supply.  A solution they and the planning authority should be aware of as they sanctioned it.SImple but effective header tank - Cononish Goldmine Simple Strainer Solution - Cononish Goldmine supplyNote also the strainer on the end of the pipe another fiendishly simple solution, a copper stopper pipe with some nail holes.  A strainer requires to be fitted at Loch Chon site to avoid future supply failures.
  • Urgently correct surface issues on disabled pitches and seed with grass
  • Pitch size needs to be increased at many pitches and some surfaces constrained – disabled pitches 8 and 9 are a priority.
  • Where pitch size cannot be increased due to poor site selection, an auxiliary area beside the pitch should be created so campsite users can sit and cook by their tents.
    This would probably require a new planning application and not be a Non Material Variation
  • Remove unsuitable pitches from the booking system
  • Change booking system and include pitch descriptions and photographs, especially in connection with the size of tent and the number occupants the pitch can accommodate.
  • Complete seeding process so recovery of damaged areas can be achieved this season
  • Rethink the use of sand as a pitch surface, it’s ridiculous and gets carried into the tent.
  • Paths constructed on spongy ground.needs to be dug out and consolidated as per the statement in the planning consent.- 3 locations identified so far.
  • Paths need to be brought  up to the specification of the planning consent with respect to edge grading and restoration of edges through seeding.
May 19, 2017 Ross MacBeath 9 comments

ON THE SPOT REPORT

Thank to James McCleary for his permission to reproduce his experience as an “On the Spot Report”

A great example of leave no trace camping and a good looking Spot on Loch Venachar.  This area is a natural campsite and long time favorite with campers.

Report begins: 13th May 2017 Loch Venachar North,  Camping Zone ‘B’


Well I was a good little boy and paid my permit for Loch Venachar on Saturday night. Thanks to Wattie for the suggestion and Sharon for the reminder for the permit (apologies if it wasn’t you two! 🙃).

 

However, about 20 17-23 year olds rolled up and pitched their stuff about 30 meters to the left. Apart from one visit from a crying teenage steaming girl about no one liking her they kept to their own wee patch. A bit loud as you’d expect.

 

In the morning I said ‘Mind tidy your stuff up!’
‘Aye, nae bother mate’ they said as they jumped in their cars and disappeared.

 

After a few minutes of cleaning their stuff up in the car park I went over to see what they’d left!

 

 

My wee camp in the first three pictures and their mess in the last two! Pictures make it look better than it actually was as you can’t see all the used condoms, food, and drink lying everywhere!

 

Sigh 😢

 

Not a Ranger in sight all night!


End of Report

Additional comments by Ross MacBeath and Nick Kempe

Failure to Stop Antisocial Behavior in Management Zones.

This is by no means an isolated incidence (see here)

It appears from the last two images that this group of youths have camped before.  It’s highly likely that much of the mess caused by abandoned tents and camping equipment (fly tipping) as well as environmental damage takes place in the National Park can be attributed to a few groups such as this.  It is clear to park users that the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park Authority and its Rangers need to focus ALL their efforts on the groups who create most havoc and not waste time in their  “engaging” and “education” of responsible campers.  “Education” of people new to camping, who may unwittingly cause minor impacts, while unobjectionable in principle is hardly a priority until the major offenders have been stopped.

 

The early bird catches the worm!

When it became apparent the group were leaving without clearing up, park rangers and Police Scotland responded arriving on site around 10:30 ish on the Sunday to find of course those responsible for the mess already gone. Another camper had a photograph of their tent with vehicles in the background.

So what is going on, it would have been reasonable to expect a standard Ranger patrol to arrive at this site well before 10.30 am as a priority on a Sunday morning, so it seems the claims of intelligent patrolling are a sham when a twelve year old knows if he’s made a mess he should scarper before he’s found out, why can’t the Park Authority appreciate this?

 

Too much time engaging with responsible visitors not enough time patrolling

How can the LLTNPA with it’s large ranger force and new powers to report offences directly to the Procurator Fiscal, fail to stop anti-social behaviour across the Park?

It’s pretty simple:

  1. The byelaws will not deter anti-social groups unless they are likely to get caught.   The Byelaws duplicate existing laws relating to these offences and only serve to devolve powers to rangers who can directly report to the procurator fiscal with a threat of higher penalties in some cases.  If you can still turn up late evening, party, jump in a car early morning and escape authority (whether Rangers or Police) it seems nothing has changed..
  2. The rangers are spending far to much time micro managing visitors and collecting data for their ranger reports, no doubt in some misguided attempt to justify the introduction of byelaws when what they should be doing is targeting the problems.  If the LLTNPA needs to employ rangers to work after 8.30pm, when problems are most likely to occur, or early morning to catch them so be it.
  3. Instead of wasted hours checking permits of responsible park users, the LLTNPA should task Rangers to identify the tell tale signs; groups drinking; messy pitches and excessive noise are all indicators of potential problems, identify those people (its easy, photograph  the car and number plate – people without cars almost never cause problems) and make it clear to them, if there is any mess left the next day they will be reported to the Procurator Fiscal.    This is what the police did on east Loch Lomond, it worked there and would be equally effective across all Management Zones.
  4. Instead of trying to ban and control responsible campers, the LLTNPA should be empowering them to help take action against anti-social visitors. The best way to change behaviour is to lead by example.  A case in point is dog fouling where over the last ten years attitudes and behaviour  of dog owners has completely changed, not due to enforcement of the law but to a change in social attitudes and it’s the attitudes of “responsible” dog walkers that have been key in this process.  They are the people on the ground most likely to see and infulence what other dog walkers were doing.  Its the same with campers.  The LLTNPA however have treated all campers as potential criminal elements and in doing so alienated their greatest potential source of support.

 

Clearly if rangers had identified the group of 20 youths at some time during their stay this criminal offence of fly tipping, which did not in fact occur until the group left in the morning, could easily have been prevented.

The Park Authority confirmed their rangers did not patrol that evening (13th May) because they were involved in another incident, They would however have caught them in the morning had their patrolling schedule started early enough. It did not, and that is the reason this particular group and so many others are free to re-offend. It’s just not good enough.

If the perpetrators were caught after the police sped off down the road after them, the fact remains LLTNPA Rangers failed to identify the issue and any success is thanks to a number of responsible campers who in fact provided the initial report of the incident with details and photographic evidence of vehicles involved. The byelaws will never succeed without the support of those the park have chosen to penalise in every conceivable way

What the Park Authority Need to Do

 

  • Abolish the camping permit system, free up Ranger time, and use patrols to identify potential problems and pre-empt
  • Set up a 24 hour response service, with the police, to respond to problems (local people and responsible campers deserve nothing less).   This could be easily paid for out of resources wasted managing permits
  • Start working with recreational organisations to identify how responsible campers could be encouraged to report problems to the LLTNPA and how people like James, who cleared up some of the mess, could be supported.  Bins for the rubbish would be a good start – its one thing to pick up someone else’s rubbish, another to take it away with you (as we are sure the LLTNPA appreciates as their ‘Rangers are not allowed to put rubbish into the backs of their vans for Health and Safety reasons).
May 13, 2017 Ross MacBeath 1 comment

By Ross MacBeath

This post, following previous posts on the Loch Chon campsite in Strathard (see here) and (here) for example, looks at recent damage caused to the environment at Loch Chon by the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park Authority.  The photos in this post were taken before the recent dry period.

Two new vehicle tracks have been created that are not on the plans

The Plans for the campsite at  Loch Chon specifically state  that  environmental damage to the site will be kept to a minimum and anything that is likely to cause such damage will be vetted by the Environmental Clerk of Works, part of whose role is to prevent any work likely to cause unnecessary damage to the fragile environment and eco system of the ancient wood. National Park Planning conditions (click to expand)

Topsoil and Excavations

Protection of Vegetation

Protection of Ecology

That said, where was the Clerk of Works when contractors decided to access the site from the B829 main road directly onto the hillside of the development. It should have been prohibited as promised by the LLTNPA’s Chief Executive Gordon Watson, who told us at the Strathard Community Council meeting on 4th July 2016 that pitches would be hand scraped.  This lead people to believe no machinery would be used on the hillside. Instead the LLTNPA contractor has created  two new tracks, the first down the full length of the hillside to the loch side path, the second joining the first at the new path just below pitch 19. Together these machinery tracks have caused serious environmental damage to the whole ecosystem. . This is a failure of the LLTNPA and their Clerk of Works to adhere to proper procedures put in place to prevent contractors from encroaching and damaging the fragile boggy environment within the ancient wood where their development is centered..

Tract 1 from the B829 down the hillside to the shore path

The creation of these tracks by the unwarranted use of vehicles  has disrupted a long swathe of the eco system stretching  down the the entire hillside forming some deep channels encouraging water to flow down the hill and creating new water courses in the process.  What should happen is that the Planning Authority should intervene and instruct the applicant to restore these areas to their original state.   However, the National Park Authority, as the body which applied for planning permission, have not set aside vegetation for restoration works as was stipulated as a planning requirement.  So it will be interesting to see how the Gordon Watson the Chief Executive of the Planning Authority will enforce the restoration on Gordon Watson the Chief Executive of the Park Authority.  How can there be anything other than a conflict of interest in this unhealthy arrangement.

 

Vehicle Track 1:

The image on the left shows Vehicle track 1 which runs down the entire slope to the lower transverse path by the shore.

Vehicle Track 2:

The image and track on the right side continues down to the path between pitch 19 and 20, a tree has been lopped off to clear the way for vehicles to pass.

There is also evidence of minor tree damage caused by vehicles:  another broken promise by the NPA who promised to safeguard trees

 

Are contractors acting on their own or has the Clerk of Works sanctioned this damage?

 

Besides taking vehicles onto the hillside, outwith the scope of the planning permission granted, the contractors have also made modifications to the layout of the camping pitches.  It is not clear if this has been agreed with the planning department or whether the Clerk of Works, who is supposed to be the intermediary and to vet all such operations, agreed to these changes in writing.     This is because the NPA does not, following a planning decision, publish information about whether any changes have been made to the planning permission they granted, as one might expect.   So, its not clear if the paperwork exists, but if it does, why are the documents not available for inspection?

 

 

For an organisation who claim conservation drive everything they do, the NPA have failed dramatically.  It would seem the need to keep the development within budget has a far greater value than the conservation of the ecosystem they swore to protect and care for during this unwarranted development.

 

The two vehicle tracks meet just below the road then continue independently down the hillside to various locations.

 

Vehicle Track 1

The disruption to the vegetation and underlying peat structure at root level is evident.

 

Environmental Damage - Track one of two hill track running down the full slope of the hill.

 

Vehicle track 1 branches off to the top of pitch 19

 

 

At each branch, or turn of the vehicle, a more intensive area of damage is found. The major problem this creates is not limited to the scars that will take years to heal but the creation of vertical groves that will allow water to enter and move more rapidly down the hill in new channels with a danger of forming new water courses.  This poses real risk to the soils and may wash them down the hillside forming a new stream..

Looking down Hill track 1 to the transverse “high path”

 

It is clear these two tracks have been used in the construction of pitches 19 and  20, as well as the paths used to access them, and other areas at this end of the campsite. In fact track 1 continues further down the slope to the path running along the shore.  It appears the vehicle tracks are being used to deliver materials for modifications to pitch surfaces, which were unsuitable for camping,  and in the process inevitably causing more damage.

 

There appears to have been no attempt either to protect the vegetation and little if any attempt to restore the damage.

 

 

Looking down the track from above pitch 19

 

The environmental damage is easily traced by the disturbed peat and the rust coloured remains of damaged mosses deprived of their water supply due to mechanical disturbance.and the churned up peat now waterlogged in many places.  This is  causing water to flow on the surface to collect In many locations where it did not do so before.

The track at this point diverges.  The branch straight ahead crosses the new transverse path and continues downhill.  The other branch, veering off to the left of the image above, is to the corner of the path where the vegetation and ecosystem around the corner has been churned up.  This has formed a collection basin for water which flows both under, across and down the sides of the path. making the path unstable (spongy) and diverting water from the natural water course down the sides of the path.

There is also evidence here of another tree being sacrificed to allow the vehicle to pass as well as  cross contamination of materials on the path sides, which extends far beyond the specified width of the path.

The vehicle track crosses over the path and continues on downhill

 

Hill Tract 1 leaving shore path

This environmental damage should have been avoided in the first place and it is obvious that the National Parks has failed in it’s duty of care. I wonder what the National Park, as Planning Authority, will do to enforce the reinstatement of the environmental damage created by the National Park itself?

 

When you build a transverse path across the hillside, this disrupts the natural flow of water downhill, with the potential to disrupt the whole ecosystem further down the slope.   Evidence of this redirection will be covered in a future Post on paths.

 

It is clear that Hill Track 1 has been created by vehicles accessing the upper hill path and pitches  in the campsite both from the B829 road above the campsite and from the lower shore path.

Vehicle Track 2

 

Vehicle Track 2 again starts from the B829 above the site and travels down hill to the junction below the road. Track 2 then cuts off to the North side.  The impact appears slight at first (top photo).

Track 2 continues down the hillside

As the ground gets wetter the impact increases.

 

The tree in the foreground has been lopped of to allow the vehicle to pass. contravening  planning and environmental protection conditions.    Its fine apparently that the National Park and its contractors chop down trees but not if occasional rogue campers do this.

 

Hill track 2 meets up with the path between pitch 19 and 20.

 

The track has had a significant impact on the vegetation and the boogy soils within the woodland.   There is something very wrong about a National Park Authority, which is supposed to be protecting the environment and  who claim to have procedures in place to prevent such damage, have caused this damage themselves.  The NPA appear to be incapable of setting up effective damage prevention procedures even where its paying for the works and the photos show vehicles have driven around the site at  will.

 

There is now a distinct possibility that there will be follow on problems with changes to the ecosystem caused by diversion of water courses by these tracks and other LLTNPA created water channels.

May 5, 2017 Ross MacBeath No comments exist
By Ross MacBeath

Perhaps, after all the publicity even Loch Lomond National Park Authority have conceded that many of the camping permit zones they created in the Trossachs are not suitable for camping.  This may explain why certain zones have been temporarily removed or do not appear on the permit booking system with the consequence that the LLTNPA has failed to deliver the 300 “new” places it promised within the camping management zones.


Forest Drive ‘C’ was removed on a temporary basis but has now been reinstated this is very unfortunate as the area has a high conservation value and should not be a campsite at all.

Forest Drive Zone ‘C’  Encouraging people to trample an ecologically sensitive area in a futile search for non existing campsites is as destructive as it contradictory to the term conservation.
This  zone is part of a greater area favoured as a breeding ground for lizards and through it’s wet aspect and vegetation, midges and ticks.

 

 

Forest Drive Zone ‘D’   – 24/02/2017

This zone has been removed from the permit booking system, a previous article on parkswatch having shown  zone ‘D’ as a wholly unsuitable area for camping being located in a recently clear-felled forest, with all the charm of a landfill site.  It has no viable pitches in an area no one would ever chose as a destination, never mind pay to do so, this is an affront to visitors.

 

 

Forest Drive Zone ‘K’ The 14 camping pitches credited to this zone have all been removed from the permit booking system.  This was a ridiculously extended zone with no viable pitches on the long narrow section to the side of Forest Drive, an area any self respecting camper would avoid in any case. The LLTNPA wrongly claimed that toilets were available at this zone.   The provision of parking for 14 vehicles was never described, other than to declare it was limited.

Forest Drive Zone N

I have not yet been able to find any details for Zone N.  It was shown on a LLTNP Map but it’s not clear how many pitches were allocated.  Working backwards the total for Forest Drive was supposed to be 72 and there are 62 at other zones giving us 10 pitches missing which are presumably accounted for by Zone ‘N’ and Zone ‘A’ if there is one – it has never appeared on any map.

Altogether this gives a total of 26 Pitches missing from the booking system at Forest Drive alone and of course their are a significant number of other zones just not suitable for camping.   Significantly, not a single one of the zones for Trossachs Rd includes photographs of what the ground looks like, unlike other areas of the National Park.

 

Other non-functional permit zones identified so far

 

Loch Achray South – has owner’s permission been given to use this site?

 

Tripple Locked Gate excluding visitors from 4 PitchesPotential campers and visitors have been locked out of the 4 pitches at south Loch Achray with a triple locked metal gate.  The clear message is access for visitors is not permitted at this time and its fair to conclude this zone is Out of Service.   Whatever the case,  it should not be locked.  The locks raise questions about the right of visitors to access this area.

Loch Venacher North, Zone A, also locked

Loch Venacher North Zone A is also locked, another 4 pitches denied to campers on top of the 30  described above.  Its possible therefore there has been no agreement with the landowner however it may also be due to the zone being unfit for use.

Photo on left from LLTNPA website 4/5/17 showing how attractive the zone is for camping – you can just see the locked gate.

 

 

Locked gates and the Right to Roam!

This raises the question of what is going on with greater access to the National Park.  It was never anyone’s understanding that Permit Zones were for paying customers only nor that they were intended to undermine the general right of access for other activities.   Now all visitors are being excluded with locked gates without explanation – a clear denial of access rights which the National Park, as the statutory access authority, was set up to uphold.

 

Which ever way you look at it the required 300 pitches have not been provided!

 

Add these pitches to the unusable ones on West Loch Lomond and the disaster at Loch Chon and its quite clear that the LLTNPA has failed in its commitment to Scottish Ministers to provide 300 new camping places by the 1st March.   Roseanna Cunningham, SNH and the LLTNPA auditors at West Dunbarton Council take note!

 

A number of organisations and public bodies only supported the camping byelaws on the basis that sufficient camping places were in place BEFORE the byelaws came into effect.   When are those organisations going to start speaking out?

April 28, 2017 Ross MacBeath No comments exist

By Ross MacBeath

The new directive for Countryside Rangers – enforce the byelaws above all else.

 

Secret slide released under FOI

While the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park made a great hullabaloo claiming success with their byelaws on the East Loch Lomond shore, what they failed to explain was that to achieve this as yet unsubstantiated claim, they had to increase ranger patrols in the area.    The problem now for the LLTNPA is the area covered by the extended byelaws covers over ten times the length of road – a vast area – and they don’t have 10 times the resources.

As a result they have had to remodel the Ranger Service.  Education and conservation have gone as priorities, the focus of Rangers is now on enforcement and engagement.

 

“Take Your Litter Home” is not a strategy.

.

Meantime “Take your litter home” is not a strategy nor is it a policy for preventing  littering.  It’s an educational program designed to raise awareness of littering issues in the long term and as such requires to be supported with litter bins, a litter collection and pick up strategy if the National Park is ever to be made litter free.

 

After over a decade watching litter polluting the park the LLTLPA still look on

 

Spent Barbeque left at Carpark Loch Venacher North Zone B 10th April '17The LLTNPA blinkered insistence that ‘Take your litter home’ IS the only contribution they have to make to litter management is itself the prime driver for the increasing mess in the National Park.

 

What a welcoming first sight for visitors, a spent barbeque in the car park.  How long will this and the rest of the litter pictured in this post remain, damaging the reputation of the Scottish Tourism before the Park Authority arranges for it to be cleaned up.

 

I was taught to put litter in a bin, my children were educated to do the same and undoubtedly their generation are teaching children the same thing. Changing that entrenched mindset is not only undesirable, it could also take 5 -10 generations to accomplish, so what the LLTNPA need to do is get a workable park cleaning strategy in place meantime and get the decades worth of rubbish they have allowed to accumulate cleaned up.

It’s somewhat ironic the LLTNPA, who berate campers for leaving litter in a bag,  are themselves guilty of fly tipping at Loch Chon.  I trust they paid the £200 fine or reported themselves to the Procurator Fiscal.

 

Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, the dirty National Park

 

The National Park Board really need to get out of their Ivory Tower, stop listening to the tripe related to them at secret board meetings and see what’s going on in the Park.for themselves.  The LLTNPA have not made any effort to clean up many areas before the byelaws commenced on the 1st of March 2017 so there is no frame of reference for the success or failure of the byelaws to be measured against (though the LLTNPA promised this would be done), while leaving the park in a mess for this season’s visitors.

 

Click images to zoom

 

This is the state of the loch side adjacent to the Loch Venacher North permit Zone A.  It is clear from the degradation on the cardboard that the above 3 images are historical.

 

Littering still taking place on 8th and 9th April ’17 in management zones

 

By contrast, the two images below show litter left by visitors on the weekend of the 8th and 9th of April despite the byelaws.    How can this be when policing the byelaws is now the Rangers first and main priority?  One would expect extreme effort at the start of the season where the Ranger to visitor ratio is high.   When the rangers can’t even cope in the low season, with  only a handful of visitors using the permit and management zones, this counts as abject failure.

 

 

It would appear the rangers just don’t have the manpower to stop this, making the byelaws superfluous.   So far It is clear the byelaws are having little effect on the negative impacts of the few.   Does this result from too much talking and not enough doing?!  With the claimed 4 million visitors to the park it is impractical to interact with them all – a ranger presence which focusses on problems is more important than endless time checking permits.

 

Serious littering, fouling and other criminal offences allowed to go on unchecked

 

After visiting 6 sites over a couple of weekends 3 of them showed serious littering, 2 toilet fouling and 2,  instances of “fire raising” (see here),  all of them criminal offences under the byelaws.    There were also two instances of landowners locking gates preventing reasonable access to 2 of the permit zones.

 

The only possible “success” the Park has had so far is in making it harder for well behaved visitors and their families who are now unable to exercise their access rights to enjoy camping in the popular areas of the Park.

 

March 19th Loch Chon Shelter erected in management zone

Under the byelaws it is a criminal Two visitors committing criminal offencesoffence to erect a shelter overnight, which means any time between 7pm or 7am.   On these light evenings, its mad that its legal for fishermen to use shelters, which  are after all a piece of personal protection equipment necessary to prevent hypothermia on bad weather days, at 18. 59 but at 19.01 they are criminals.  Two visitors had put up this shelter and 2 Rangers were in vicinity – I wonder how they advised the fishermen?    This rule is impossible to enforce.  It would require signs at every place used by fisherman in the camping management zones.

 

March 19th Loch Chon Campsite

 

At the Loch Chon camp site I witnessed two day visitors light a fire using wood collected from surrounding area.   Rangers were present and did nothing (just like at South Loch Earn) (see here).  Impossible to enforce for non-campers because none of the Park’s signage tell you about this and the wording of the byelaws is not clear – you need to cause damage.  However, campers when they apply for a permit agree to terms and conditions that clearly state you cannot use wood you have collected and say that breach of these terms is itself a criminal offence.  The byelaws are thus potentially enforceable against campers who apply for permits but no-one else.

 

April 2nd Tents pitched outside permit zone but in a management zone

 

Two weeks later in Forrest Drive down by Loch Achray, I had a chat with a family of 4 adults and 2 kids who were all enjoying a bright warm spring day on the 2nd April ’17 at an illegal camping pitch on the South side of Loch Achhray,

The family were experienced campers and with three tents, a shelter and a toilet tent they were certainly well prepared.  All in all the kids were having a wonderful time fishing with plenty of space to run around the tent and on the loch side where large grassy expanses abound. They seemed blissfully unaware the 4 adults were committing criminal offences by just pitching here outside a permit zone.  However, as they intimated rangers had stopped by the day before and again today, Sunday 2nd, when they should have been made aware of their crime.  However they were not asked for a permit or moved on.   The reason why is perhaps explained by  the image to the right.  The Forestry Commission sign states this IS a permit zone when the actual permit Zone ‘L’ is on the opposite side of the Drive.  Not even FCS know where people are allowed to camp!

 

Zone ‘L’, opposite, is however unsuitable for camping as there are no viable pitches

 

Had the family purchased a permit for the adjacent zone L they would not have been able to camp there. Images showing why can be seen in the Zone L gallery or the full report is here.  Perhaps the Rangers allowed the illegal camp on the shore because it is impossible to camp in Zone ‘L’ another complete failure as a camping zone claiming 9 pitches.

 

Zone  ‘L’ is however being used for toileting and the rangers of course are powerless to prevent it.  Now, while having a crap is not covered by the byelaws for the general public, it is covered by the camping permit terms and conditions breach of which is a criminal offence.  There is a clear breach here – toilet paper for example has to be carried out – but I just wonder just what is the LLTNPA’s modus operandi for catching people in the act of shitting in the woods.  That would surely make an interesting read.
This incident is recent, possibly a week ago, certainly within the management season.   It would be impossible to attribute this to any individual permit holder without photographs or witnesses and of course it’s just as likely to be a day visitor (its not just campers who need toilets).   So the byelaws  themselves fail to make any material difference to this illegal fouling. They are no more than an unwelcoming threat and intrusion on every visitors day in the park, compounded by the inevitable attempt of a pair of rangers to engage is a 10 minute dialogue.     What can they do with the nearest toilets 45 minutes away by car (round trip) from any permit zone on Forest Drive?

 

 

Rangers attend an incident April 1st  ’17  Loch Achray Youth Site

The same family told me  of a fracas in the Chopped down tree for firewood, 2nd April '17adjacent camping area a bit further along the loch on Saturday night, the 1st of April, where some live tree chopping had taken place.     They explained that rangers attended at an incident at the loch side and some raised voices followed.   Hopefully we will see a report sent to the Procurator Fiscal for this damage but it will be interesting to see if the report is for breach of permit terms and conditions or under the existing law of damage to property.

 

The important point here that the presence of Ranger patrols failed to stop the damage occurring in the first place again confirming the Ranger Patrols are ineffective and just a huge revenue expense that would be better invested in infrastructure such as provision of wood for fires.

 

.

10th April Loch Achray South.   No change here with black plastic bags left at the gates and water bottle left by the campfire, the byelaws clearly making no improvement.   What is and always has been required of course is litter bins which would prevents bag like this being ripped open by foraging animals.  The LLTNPA have failed to elucidate how this mess will be cleared up without a litter management policy.

 

Gates Firmly Locked, so is this zone even active?

 

Somewhat strange for an advertised camping zone that can be booked on the permit site, these gates are locked like no other, with two padlocks through heavy duty chains and 3 bike locks with additional rope loops and a barbed wire fence to boot.

 

Quite clearly access is being denied to visitors however on entering the zone it is also clear it is this zone is currently being used by visitors.

Why this is listed as a camping zone at all is a mystery when the gate is obviously permanently locked.

So how can this be allowed to happen at such a prominent site.

 

Illegal toleting at Loch Achray SouthThere was also evidence off toileting at Loch Achray South, which would be illegal if done by a permit holder although strangely enough not illegal if done by someone without a permit (though they of course would have been committing a different criminal offence if they had pitched a tent here without a permit.  Perhaps the Rangers, in cases like these,  check names and addresses of recent permit holders and then contact them to ask if they are responsible?    How can the Rangers ever know if its a camper or day visitor responsible, as was the case for most of the fire, barbeque and toileting incidents described above.

 

Against all reason the LLTNPA accost visitors with their futile byelaws.

 

The LLTNPA has added a dozen or so new criminal offences for campers and campervanners through the back door by making breach of their permit terms and conditions a criminal offence.  One rule for campers applying for permits, another for everyone else.   It has reduced their credibility to that of a petulant child. It’s just embarrassing.
The main tool at the Ranger’s disposal now is fear and threat of prosecution.  While that may very well be a useful and perhaps even an acceptable way to prevent  serious criminal offences its scandalous this could be applied to pitching a tent or staying 4 nights in a zone instead of 3

 

The LLTNPA were advised from people who understood outdoor recreation and criminal behaviour that the byelaws were never going to be an effective deterrent and affect the wrong people.  It should be clear to all now that other than some reports to the Procurator Fiscal when Rangers just happen to be in the right place at the right time, the majority of contraventions of the byelaws will go undetected because Ranger cover is just too infrequent.   While this frequency is inversely proportional to the time Rangers spend pestering visitors with their visitor engagement, its still unlikely to be enough, even if rangers did stick to patrolling and adopted the policy for all petulant children of being seen and not heard.

April 25, 2017 Ross MacBeath No comments exist
By Ross MacBeath

It is now clear that much of camping provision intended as replacements for camping by our loch shores banned under the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park Authority Byelaws is little more than a collection of undesirable areas with little or nothing to offer families or groups of visitors as a camping experience.

 

With the exception of the yet unfinished site at Loch Chon and pitches at Rowardennan little else if anything is new.  The Park Authority is just issuing paid for permission slips to camp in the same areas that were free to campers previously, without the benefit of toilets or drinking water, or in the case of many permit zones,  places you would not want to camp, or even be able to pitch a tent.

 

Forest Drive Zone ‘E’ – no more than a collection of broken down pitches

 

Forest drive Zone ‘E’ supposedly providing  4 camping pitches, has a trio of broken down  pitches, created by the  forestry commission many years before with the 4th to be selected from the greater camping zone.

 

 

The first formal pitch has been destroyed by a forestry vehicle crossing it to access active forestry operations in the permit zone. The pitch is unusable.

 

As you might expect from an existing Forestry Commission site, this location is rather desirable at least as a view point and picnic spot. It has a true feel of a mature forest with pine needles softening the lines of the car park.  However forestry operations and tree  felling is putting this at risk.

 

The area overlooks the westerly reaches of Loch Drunkie. It is therefore a very popular spot with drive through visitors for both photo stopovers and extended stops for picnicking which means there is high demand for the limited space at the view point overlooking Loch Drunkie, marked ‘P’ on the map.

 

It is clear these pitches have not been used for camping in recent years and resurrecting them brings 8 to 16 additional visitors who will remain on the site with their vehicles.  This number of visitors using such a small area is as detrimental to the forest drive experience, as it is to the camping experience where a continuous flow of drive through visitors in search of picnic spots, disturb peace and quiet of the 3 pitches sited at the car park. The campers in turn block the use of the desirable location at the view point with  their own picnics and recreational use.

 

No work has been done in this zone other than the erection of a sign and some posts

 

The Forestry Commission’s original 3 camping pitches   have over the years fallen into disrepair through lack of maintenance and other damage.

That said, the LLTNPA have adopted this site as a camping permit zone and seen fit to do no remedial works whatsoever leaving the area in a state not fit for pitching tents.  Toilets for this zone are a 14.4 km round trip by car taking around 45 minutes.

 

The second of three pitches has a tree stump in it’s centre making it impossible to use as a viable camping pitch. How does the Park Authority expect anyone to sleep on this?

 

Again the National Park Authority have show their utter contempt for visitors at this site

 

 

The third pitch is a little better insofar as it is undamaged and you could pitch a small tent, but it does have borderline issues with slope which makes it undesirable from a comfort and sleeping perspective.  It would also be far more flexible without the wooden border and like the others, it is somewhat overgrown and does not provide a good ‘paid for’ camping experience.

 

The fourth pitch does not exist in any  formal form  and it appears you are expected to select a place to camp in the greater area that forms Zone ‘E’.  Some of the pine needle covered spots near the car parking looked promising but they turned out to be on hardcore that has become overgrown meaning there is no way to pitch a tent.

 

 

Looking back into the zone from the boundary opposite the car park we find what has now become a typical LLTNPA NON-solution,  with active forestry work  in progress within an area that is generally unsuitable for pitching tents. Wet, un-even ground with vegetation and forestry debris makes it an impossibility for camping as well as undesirable for visitor access.  Could another tent pitch be found? Yes if the debris from forest operations was removed, but the question remains, why would anyone want to?

 

Besides the one place identified above, could 3 other pitches be found to camp?  That’s a definite no at the moment. So the LLTNPA need to remedy the problems with the existing three faulty pitches and clear the ground for a fourth.

 

Another failure to provide the required number of pitches advertised

 

Like so much of the camping provision this zone is not family friendly due to pitch size which are too small for 4, 6 or 8 man tents. a lack of space to host 4 families and the drive through visitors at this popular spot with a likely conflict for both seating and car parking spaces.

This makes  zone ‘E’  unsuitable as a replacement for the previous camping provision by our loch shores and with the limitation on erecting only one tent per permit it is difficult to see how a family could use this area even if the pitch issues were resolved.

See also

 Forest Drive Zone B
 Loch Lomond Suie Field & Cuileag
 Forest Drive Zone C
 Loch Lomond Inveruglas (2nd half post)
 Forest Drive Zone D
 Forest Drive Zone E (this Post)
 Loch Lomond Firkin Point (1st half post)
 Forest Drive Zone F (to follow)
 Loch Earn South
 Forest Drive Zone G (to follow)
 Forest Drive Zone H (to follow)
 Forest Drive Zone L (coming soon)
 Forest Drive Zone M
April 20, 2017 Ross MacBeath No comments exist

First impressions count for a lot – I think “utter contempt” would describe what I thought on first viewing this site.  That’s the utter contempt shown to visitors by the LLTNPA. They have the gall to suggest that this constitutes a replacement camping place to those now banned to visitors on our loch shores. Quite frankly it’s preposterous to suggest any visitor would consider camping in Zone D as a valuable life experience in natural surroundings.  It has all the charm of a landfill site.

 

Plus points: parking for 2 cars.  Minus points: everything else!

 

Zone D represents everything we despise in the forestry industry

 

Utter devastation is wrought on the landscape when forests are clear-felled, leaving a wasteland of fallen branches and cutoff tree trunks. Although the clear-fell in Zone D did not happen yesterday it should serve as a reminder that Forest Drive is an active working forest and forest operations are continuing at many other camping zones in the area rendering some of them unusable.

 

 

On viewing a Satellite Image I expected a forest location – nothing prepared me for the vista in the photo above. The location map is not fitted in the correct position ( the map is not drawn correctly) and the two posts on the other side of the river which would normally demarcate the zone limits, are side by side, outside the permit zone and on the wrong side of the stream. It would seem even those laying out this zone could not fathom where the zone begins or ends.

 

Just Commit a criminal offence if you can’t find a camping spot!

It’s so bad that the LLTNPA “Get a Permit” website even encourages visitors to commit a criminal offence by camping outside the permit zone.  They seem to be well aware there are no viable camping pitches within the zone.

 

 

The fact that other side of the burn is outside the permitted area is however somewhat academic as its hard to imagine anyone would want to camp there and secondly, felled forests do not hold much hope for finding camping pitches, as well as which they are quite hazardous areas to enter.  I can confirm there are no camping spots in the immediate vicinity of the two marker poles on the south of the river as after stumbling on them I searched the area before realising they were positioned in the wrong place.

 

The zone map is somewhat confusing as it shows what appears to a fork in Forest Drive with a large car parking area right on the junction.  At first glance there would appear to be a path running around the southern perimeter of the zone.  On comparing the map with the terrain it is a stream not a path.    The main camping area marked with the tent symbol looks like an open grass area bounded by the stream.  However the  presence of zone markers in the wrong location on the other side of the stream makes initial orientation impossible until you can accept the fact they’re wrong. .  This isn’t acceptable, the zone boundary only became clear when the path of the river was traced out on foot and even then I doubted I was in the right location because of the unsuitability of the location as a camping zone and lack of any obvious pitches. The trees shown in the permit zone map and the area beyond are fictional as the entire area has been harvested.

More phantom camping provision, 2 pitches claimed for this site?

The zone is another fantasy, there is no choice of camping pitches as there are no  pitches.

 

The only spot in the entire zone in which you could fit a tent.

 

It’s on rough grasses growing over previously felled wood and not suitable.

 

Looking from the far end of the zone towards the zone map post (top right)

 

Zone D is yet another example of phantom camping provision from the LLTNPA and supposedly provides 2 camping pitches to replace those on the areas of our loch shores where campers are now banned. This area has zero amenity.  There is no good reason to be here, let alone camp, it has no redeeming features and the presence of the stream  holds only false  promise. It is a thoroughly.unrewarding location.

 

Camping on the side of Forest Drive is not desirable

 

The drive-by location  highlights another issue.   Zone D is at the bottom of a long downhill section of Forest Drive where would-be boy racers just can’t help themselves trying to get close to 50 mph, despite the 10 mph limit, thus causing a dust storm, not conducive to sitting by a tent good.

The LLTNPA’s abject failure to fulfill their promises

 

Anyone being duped into paying for this site or other similar permit areas should seek compensation from the LLTNPA. Not just a return of the the permit fee but compensation for the loss of a weekend, the travel expenses and any other ancillary costs incurred  getting to this ridiculous camping zone.  The National Park is quite clearly misrepresenting the nature of this site and a visit to the small claims court should surely see compensation awarded despite their denial of liability in their terms and conditions  (See Permit Terms and Conditions here).

 

Meantime, perhaps the LLTNPA could explain publicly just how many viable camping places  are actually available?   Its promise to the Minister to deliver 300 “new” camping places by the 1st March was clearly never met if you take account of all the unusable permit areas and the non-functioning Loch Chon campsite.

April 16, 2017 Ross MacBeath No comments exist
Extract from secret Board Meeting about implementation camping byelaws. The claimed antisocial behaviour has been grossly overstated as has its popularity as a camping destination – too inaccessible for most.

By Ross MacBeath

What differentiates a campsite from wild camping?   Most people would say at the very least the existence of  services such as the provision of drinking water and toilets.  The evidence from my visits to  Loch Chon the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park Authority cannot even provide a reliable water supply for the £7 a night charge  (see here for post and here for a set of photographs of wider issues with the campsite).

 

The reasons why the water supply at Loch Chon is defective

 

One of the first principle of designing a private water supply it to ensure the availability of water from the source stream by carrying out a year long study of peak water flow. What follows below shows that  these investigations were either not carried out or ignored but its worth considering first why the LLTNPA has behaved in this manner..

 

Gordon Watson at a Public Meeting with Strathard Community Council on the 4th July 2016 stated that the Loch Chon campsite was chosen for it’s suitability and merits as a campsite rather than its availability.  The slide above, which was obtained subsequently through FOI, shows that this is not true and that Loch Chon was the ONLY option  that would allow the LLTNPA to deliver the  number of pitches they had promised to Scottish Ministers by 1st March to enact their byelaws.

 

What this shows is that the LLTNPA intended to build a campsite at Loch Chon no matter what.  For how the LLTNPA dealt with its planning permission to itself (see here). This is reprehensible behavior on all counts and LLTNPA are quite clearly paying the price with a defective water supply. But ultimately it’s visitors and communities who will pay the real price for this unwarranted development going forward.

 

Peak water flow and the LLTNPA Loch Chon water supply

 

An unsightly installation with loops in blue water pipe makes a poor impression.  When taken together with the positioning of the intake manifold, which is partially out of the water, unsecured and likely to be dislodged the first time the stream is in spate, it provides a rather damming but realistic indication of what was initially installed.

 

Just while we’re looking at this image, you can see that the concrete floor of the culvert under the bridge is smooth and curved.  This is done intentionally to stop materials collecting on the surface.  When the stream is in spate, large boulders are transported in the torrent of water and the smooth culvert base ensures they can roll right through preventing them from  causing an obstruction under the bridge. We will see why this is important later in the article.

 

Another important factor in providing a water supply is water pressure

 

One measure of the effectiveness of the water supply is determined by the water flow from the taps, which is of course dependent on the water pressure.  Water pressure in turn determined by the difference in elevation between the tap and the intake manifold.  The greater the height between the two the greater the pressure.

 

At this development the Park Authority have chosen to place the intake manifold almost 2  metres underground just by the road bridge over the stream  though it is still above the level of the taps which are further down the slope.  Not sufficiently high though to provide a sufficient head of water which is responsible for many of the issues with the water supply.   It would seem clear then that the intake manifold is in the wrong pace. It’s a basic design flaw and still goes uncorrected even though the LLTNPA is aware of the fact.

An essential requirement is that the intake manifold is always underwater

 

You would think that making sure the intake manifold is always under water would be a given. Yet here we are at Loch Chon on the 12th  March 2017 with the manifold almost completely uncovered  drawing air into the system.

 

Water intake pipe is aove the water level of the river drawing air instead of water.
Image 12th March 2017 lying on surface at water level

 

The problem is clear that the stream does not have sufficient water flow in dry periods.  This was evident during a dry spell starting before March 1st and through 12th March when the water supply failed intermittently when the intake pipe was not fully submerged causing air to be drawn into the system. In this location there is sufficient depth of water the intake is just not positioned properly.

 

 

Of course once the air lock is in the system it won’t self clear easily as water won’t flow up hill.  So many basic principles have just been overlooked cumulatively resulting in poor system design. This is a contributory factor together with the failure of staff, the clerk of works and the contractor to understand the basic requirements for implementing such a water supply.

 

One must ask who is managing this project, clearly the people involved with the development at Loch Chon have little or no understanding of stream feeds to private water supplies or their design. This lack of capability is worrying in an organisation which claims to wish to provide more campsites.   The LLTNPA is evidently not up to the task.

 

One week later the water was partially on, there was drinking water but no toilets

 

One week later on the 19th March 2017 the intake pipe was submerged once more, after some rainfall, however the water to the toilets and wash hand basins was still off.  You can see here the pipe had been removed from the clips removing the ridiculous upward loops in the water feed pipe.

 

Recent rainfall has caused the stream level to rise and cover manifold The Intake Manifold under the surface of the stream after rainfall

The water supply was still causing issues, drinking water was  available but toilet flushing was not.

Two weeks later there is still no effective water supply

 

On the 2nd of April the water supply was again only partially functioning the intake manifold was submerged  and there was water.   This time while one toilet was working the drinking water wasn’t.  3 of the 4 toilets remained locked.  The disabled toilet wass open and functioning with wash hand basins.

 

Another week on engineers were working on the system and some water was flowing

 

10th April 2017 – Water was now available from the outside taps though pressure was so low the auto shut off taps fail to operate correctly.  Well at least there was drinking water on site.  Although container filling took a while, it was better than nothing.

 

Again only one toilet was unlocked but I am pleased to report  it was flushing and the wash hand basin was operational. The other three toilets remain locked and strangely it was not the disabled toilet that was open.

 

It had taken the LLTNPA well over a month since the date the campsite was officially open to get even a basic water supply in place.  This was my first visit where toilets and drinking water have been available together but it is clear the LLTNPA are not out of the woods yet with low flow rates and intermittent supply. The test will be when all 4 toilets are in operation and water still comes out of the taps.

 

The engineers were working on the system when I arrived and allowed an opportunity to see whats inside the container next to the toilet block. It does look like there is a leak in the container roof.

 

The confusion over the hot and cold taps had also been sorted and there were now neutered tap tops both supplying cold water.

 

The  LLTNPA have been busy correcting some of the issues above and creating others

 

My visit on the 10th of April 2017 showed some changes.  The main visible differences one week on were  up by the intake manifold.  They had cut the pipe back and fitted a black sheath which is far less  intrusive.  The had also removed the old stainless steel manifold and fitted a cage to cover the end of the pipe.  However the pipe end is open and directly facing into the water flow with nothing to prevent  pebbles and smaller items being transported down the stream from finding their way into the system, so anything smaller than the mesh can also enter the intake pipe.  I think this may pose a problem for the future, potentially causing blockages in the intake pipe and significant costs and disruption to clear it. Some form of strainer or baffle is surely required.

 

Cage fitted over intake pipe, small stones of dam will be washed away with first rains In dryer weather the water level fails to cover the intake pipe

Click on images for zoomed view

 

The second and most important is the placement of the intake port on to the surface of the culvert, these images are very telling considering the recent weather has been wet followed by a short dry spell, the level here has dropped 20 cm since last checked.3 weeks ago.

 

This indicates the Peak flow of the stream may be very small in dry weather.

The problem is clear, the peak flow of the stream on dry days is so small that the water level in the culvert is no more than a centimetre or so and doesn’t even cover the intake pipe.  To solve this a small dam, and I mean small, has been created with stones and gravel where the depth of water behind this is sufficient to cover the intake pipe.

 

Culverts are designed to prevent debris collecting

As we discussed already, the smooth curved floor of the culvert is designed to prevent debris collecting in this location.  The Debris (dam) (photo above) will be removed by fast water flow.

Even with the current level of water flow the smaller stones and gravel around the intake pipe will be washed away eventually breaking the dam causing the water level to drop below the intake pipe and the water supply to fail.

 

In Spate the stream will remove all debris

With any heavy rain storm the stream will be in spate, the force of water will clear all of the rocks forming the dam in the culvert.  When in spate the stream can also carry branches and fallen trees down through the culvert but now with the fixed obstruction of the mesh cage there is a possibility that these will damage the cage or more likely get jammed on it causing a build up of debris in the culvert. This is not good practice and I would think it should be avoided.

 

The arrangement of the pipe has changed, now entering the river bank at a much lower level, the pipe is not secured on it’s traverse across the culvert and the gap underneath will most likely collect sticks and other vegetation then a build up of debris will possibly  occur.

 

Two months on and no further forward.

 

Around 2 months since the water problems became public and it would seem we are right back where we started with an intermittent supply determined by rainfall.   The National Park Authority really have to get their act together on this and stop penny pinching.  There is a problem with the water supply and it’s clear what it is.  In dry spells there is no water.  Get it sorted!  The solution is simple providing the stream does not dry up altogether, and only time will tell if that’s going to happen.

 

One thing remains clear, the LLTNPAs current solution is unlikely to work effectively even in the short term.

The real problem here is systemic failures within the LLTNPA

 

The LLTNPA Board should have been well aware of these problems as some apparently visited the campsite but have denied their existence in almost every public forum, even at their own board meetings.  I’m aware of one occasion where their spokesperson stated “As with any new site, there have been some snagging issues such as the running water which was unavailable for a few days due to a temporary problem with the new connection”  at least finally giving a nod to a problem everyone knows exists.     41 days of no water, limited water or intermittent water supply is hardly reflected by their “temporary problem”.   I believe it’s clear from the series of images here that the  problem has existed from the beginning and the vagaries of Scottish weather has determined if water was available or not. The solutions created  just promise more of the same – an ineffectual, intermittent water supply.

 

See here for video on the 19th March and here for the 2nd April

 

In the strange world of infallibility the LLTNPA inhabit even when they’rere wrong, they say they’re right and put out statement claiming all is well, whether it’s true or not.  This was certainly what happened at their board meeting on the 13th of March when numerous board members patted each other on the back for a job well done at Loch Chon and for getting the site finished on tiime.   This was witnessed by seven members of the public but should have been recorded for all to see.   Quite a surreal experience to see a National Park Authority  behave in this way.

April 14, 2017 Ross MacBeath 3 comments

By Ross MacBeath

Three Lochs Forest Drive Camping Permit Zone M

Following my visit to Forest Drive and posts on Zone B and Zone C, I thought I would cover zone M at the other end of Forest Drive because there was actually a family camping there when I visited on the 10th of April ’17.

 

Misleading information about the permit area

There are according to the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park Authority website no facilities in this permit zone, “no drinking water available” but “There are toilets half way along Three Lochs Forest Drive, up to 3km away.” 

* click map to zoom
  • The distance back along the drive to the toilets is 5.6 Km, if walking this would give a round trip of 11.2 km, not the maximum of 3 km implied, taking between 2.5 hrs to 4 hrs depending on pace.
  • Forest drive is a one way system, therefore to drive from any camping zone on Forest Drive to the toilets and return to your permit zone is a 14.4 km round trip taking about 45 minutes drive within speed limits

 

A Family with young children and a dog sold a pitch for a two man tent

The family of 5, 2 adults and 3 children, with a dog,  had purchased a permit for Forest Drive zone ‘M’: a site suitable only for a three man tent in a location wholly unsuitable for a family camp. The LLTNPA’s “Get a Permit site” misled them by not explaining the nature of the site or it’s capacity for tent size. The result is their 8 man tent had to be shoehorned into the only level space in the entire zone leaving them precariously close to an overhanging river bank.

 

8 man tent shoehorned into 2/3 man pitch
Pitching an 8 man tent on a 3 man pitch

Problems posed for these campers

It’s impossible to tension the guys properly due to the river behind and dense vegetation to the front so with high winds the whole lot could end in the river or collapsed with pole damage. Without space between the tent and the river, the central pole hoops each side of the door could not be pegged at the river side at all, leaving the tent unstable in the 26 mph winds experienced on 10th April when this camp took place.  Being so close to river,  the weight of an adult on the bank fixing guy lines could cause a collapse with at best a soaking, at worst a serious injury.  .

 

The door as you can see opens into the gap in the vegetation making entry and exit limited if not problematic, forcing entry to be made by a corridor in the vegetation. The greater area around the tent is a nightmare, it’s tick heaven and puts those in this area at some risk of tick bites. The nature of the vegetation also makes it likely that adders are present and care should be take especially in April when they come out of hibernation.   The use of sandals or even shorts would be ill advised due to the blanket of brambles prevalent in this area of the zone.

 

LLTNPA sells a product that fails to meet requirements then refuses a replacement.

 

The family in question were new to camping and oblivious to some of the problems they may face which could turn their first camping experience into a camping nightmare. They had identified on arrival that zone G by the loch side would have made a more suitable location for the family to camp. but there was no indication of this on the permit booking website as there are no photographs or descriptive text to the suitability of any zone.at Forest Drive.

In any case changing zones is not allowed under the parks  terms and conditions, which states “Permits cannot be transferred to other permit areas…” considering  they have been  mis-sold the camping experience that is no more than a cynical attempt by the LLTNPA to absolve itself from the need to provide a more suitable pitch which should have been identifiable during the booking process in the first place.

 

The LLTNPAs map for Three Lochs Forest Drive Zone M shows a long zone bounded by the river to the north and Forest Drive to the south  It details some trees at the western limit of a large semi oval camping ground becoming narrower corridor as it stretches east to the wooded area just below the gate. This area is expected to provide two camping pitches with visitor choice from the greater zone area. The image of the tent is placed over a location which in reality is a sink hole that drains runoff from the road in wet weather.

 

LLTNPA’s map fails to represent the true nature of Zone M

 

The Map of course does not represent what we find on the ground.  The shape of the zone follows the north and south bounds of the river and road making the true area of the zone similar in size but the narrow area between each end of the zone is filled with trees and scrub.  There is also a discrepancy with post position at the east end sign and yellow topped marker by the river.

 

The whole idea of a zone is misused here to con the public, stakeholders and ministers into believing something has been delivered when it has not.  It is clear the true extent of the camping zone is virtually  no larger than those areas shown in green and marked as pitch 1 and pitch 2 (on map below) and even then pitch 2 is not viable for camping due to the nature of the ground vegetation cover and it’s location in surrounding vegetation.

 

Diagram showing the poor access to Camping Zone M
Vegetation is dynamic and the diagram represents summer / autumn seasons.

Pitch 1 – a Natural “found” pitch by the river bank

 

As stated before, good camping pitches are found not made.

Pitch 1 is the only natural camping pitch in the  zone.  Its a small, level, dry grassy patch to the west edge of the zone. The pitch is longer and not much than wider than the path it sits on so will only suit a 1 or 2 man oblong footprint tent.  The presence of a mature fire ring indicates that this area has been used for camping in past seasons. This is not a new provision but an existing site. Being on a path into the rest of the oval area its not well situated as people and their pets pass looking for the second pitch or just exploring the area.  While at present there is another route down from the road it’s likely to be cutoff with brambles when the growing season begins. .

 

A natural pitch, used prior to byelaws but counted as new provision
Pitch 1 Long and Narrow and suitable for a two/three person tent.

 

Pitch 2 is not a viable camping pitch

 

The second pitch is just beyond the first, on the same path.  It is no more than a strimmed area of vegetation (bracken) on ground which is raised slightly above the surrounding area.  It is dry, even and fairly level.  The problem is the underlying vegetation has been cut back to provide the so called pitch in the middle of what is a dense patch of Bracken and Brambles.   When the growing season restarts it will quickly be come unusable without regular strimming and very undesirable when the surrounding vegetation reaches waist height.

 

 

Pitch 2 is not viable as a camping pitch, the cut down vegetation will re-establish itself and its location in the middle of bracken is wholly unsuitable.  The location is adjacent to brambles and will suffer encroachment if not already present on the pitch. Locating tents in .bracken is undesirable as it’s a preferred habitat for ticks.

The location of two pitches such in close proximity is also undesirable with the potential for mutual disturbance and the lack of surrounding space in this side of the zone make multiple occupancy undesirable.   The remainder of the half oval end of Zone M is not inaccessible to humans because of dense vegetation and brambles.

 

The west end of the zone is largely inaccessible.

 

The ground cover in the oval area of zone M, designated the camping area by the tent symbol in the Parks Map, in reality, like the rest of the area, offers nothing in the way of recreation.  It is both rough and bramble filled, where access to the rest of the zone is down slopes only if they are not overgrown and so blocked by vegetation. The central section where the zone narrows to a steep slope and with an almost vertical drop to the river it is not accessible.  The areas immediately to the west and east of the narrows are overgrown and bramble filled.

The Central Narrowed Portion of Zone M is Completely inaccessible

 

The central potion from the east of the zone to the west is impassable due to steep slope and tick vegetation. There is no connection path between the West and East side of Zone M’ The Bramble and dense vegetation covers almost half of the semi oval area shown with the tent symbol.

 

Thick brambles covering large areas of west side of Zone M, vertical slopes down to river.

The East end of Zone M

 

The east end of Zone M is somewhat inaccessible due to slopes and thick bramble entangled vegetation, There are three or so locations where access is possible down rather steep slopes there is nothing more in the area than a path through to one of the other exits.making entrance pointless as there is no viable camping locations or other reason to come into this end of the zone.other than to search fruitlessly for a camping spot or exploration.

 

These images were taken before the start of the growing season

The LLTNPA attitude towards visitors is shocking and their terms & conditions and regulations for the park are draconian:  “You must arrive at your permit area after
1pm on the first day of your permit and leave before 11am on the last day of your permit”  under threat of a £500 fine and a criminal conviction.

 

See terms and conditions here

 

The LLTNPA also take the view through their zero liability clause that it is your responsibility to decide on the safety of their product, that is the “camping experience” that they have sold you, which of course you can only do once you arrive on site.  Then, if the location is dangerous and unsuitable as is the case above, they expect you to put up with a poor experience or cancel your weekend and return home.

April 3, 2017 Ross MacBeath 1 comment

By Ross MacBeath

 

On the 13th March at the Board Meeting at the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park HQ in Balloch, the Your Park update report (see here) stated the “Loch Chon campsite is on course for completion and handover………….for 1st March” .   At the end of the meeting, in what appeared to be an orchestrated statement, it was reported  that the Board had made a site visit and all was found to be in order.    It will be interesting to see if this is recorded in the minutes when they eventually appear.
Having visited the campsite on the 12th March ’17, the day before the board meeting, I knew the statement to be untrue and have published  over a hundred photographs which are proof of this fact.  Its very worrying that Board Members who visited appear to have so little knowledge of camping that they were oblivious to the multitude of obvious problems and then that senior staff and the  entire board have colluded to hide the fact that all was not in order with the completion and handover of the development at Loch Chon.

 

Now, over a full month after Scottish Ministers were promised 300 new pitches were to be provided, allowing the Byelaws to be brought into force, the Loch Chon site has still not been delivered and many of permit zones are unsuitable for camping (see here) and  (here) for examples.  The majority of pitches at Loch Chon remain both unusable or undesirable as camping pitches – as of 2nd April 2017

 

General Conditions of site

The area remains a building site with tracked vehicles, tippers and aggregates at one end of the toilet block and an unwelcoming mess at the entrance container known as the site office and bin store. We are into April and the only pitch that’s truly serviceable is pitch 21 which is coincidentally the only pitch on the entire campsite the LLTNPA did not create.

 

The Park Authority’s hypocrisy knows no bounds

After chastising Campers and Visitors for leaving black bags of rubbish by overflowing bins and  handing out penalties, here we have the Park Authority leaving their own bags of rubbish by the bin store, the entrance to which is strewn with various building materials creating a great first impression for visitors.


This is typical of what we now see in the undesirable culture created by the National Park Byelaws,  where the law makers and their landowner or business partners don’t have to comply with any laws they have created for park users.

 

Drinking water issues continue to plague Loch Chon campsite

 

No Drinking water or dish washing facilities available at site.

Although the site is claimed to be fully operational, there is no treated drinking water to the external taps, preventing container filling and dish washing. 3 of the 4 toilets remained locked.  The 4th is open with flushing cistern and working wash hand basins. I suspect a re-plumbing exercise has diverted the drinking water to the toilet block, though the  LLTNPA still insist the issues only lasted a few days despite the almost weekly video reports to the contrary.


The promised sympathetic integration of containers into the site has been greatly exaggerated, this solution for buildings in a National Park is just tacky, it’s not appropriate for a National Park and ruins the aesthetic of the entire development.

 

Cross contamination of materials used on site.

 

The uncontrolled spread of construction materials beyond the confines of paths and roads is a major concern at this development and this will be the subject of an environmental post shortly.  What’s going on now is the cross contamination of finished works with a new quartz aggregate material introduced to the site.  The use of quartz aggregate in an ancient forest needs to be avoided. It’s an alien material and grates at every view but when it’s spread through the environment in this manner it should be a crime.

 

How is this possible when there is an appointed clerk of works with responsibly for overseeing all variations to the original planning application and agreeing and documenting all construction work meets environmental standards? The need for a remedy is clear and mixing of this aggregate with vegetation can only be restored by picking it up stone by stone rather than the heavy handed machine operation that has damaged the site unnecessarily in other locations.

Environmental Damage created through attempting to clear contamination by alien materials

 

These images show an attempt to clean up hardcore.deposited on a slope.

Cross contamination with hardcore, perhaps the original rout of the path? Attempt to clean off hard core contamination by scraping with excavator.

The original contamination on the left and the disastrous attempt to remove it effectively  has caused destruction to the hillside in the process. It remains unclear why  the hardcore was deposited on vegetation in the first place, given the area, probably a path placement error.

 

Pitch problems and solutions

 

The LLTNPA has introduced grit to camping pitch surfaces: grit is a disaster for camping as it’s carried into the tent sleeping area and sticks to everything – what are they thinking?!

 

Many of the proposed pitches were covered in rough grasses, mosses and rushes:  successive cutting of the coarse grasses have removed the rough edges but the reality is they are still not suitable as a surface for pitching a tent and will deteriorate rapidly through the growing season.

 

Uneven surfaces and slopes: inappropriate aggregates and graded building materials have been spread over peat and moss to even out the ground but fail to to make it level.

 

Wet areas: with the exception of Pitch 8 and 10, wet areas remain untouched, I guess it’s a wait and see and hope summer weather will dry them out.   It probably won’t,  they’re built on natural water courses, as was pitch 10.

 

Brambles: still pose a great threat to the pitches it looks like they are just being covered over rather than removed.  It won’t work, brambles need intensive management.

 

Access to popular camping spots denied by the National Park Authority

 

The image below shows a typical and popular loch side camping spot now banned by the bylaws. It’s high amenity, provides a level, short grass surface over firm ground, the surface is even with sufficient depth to take tent pegs. it also covers a large area and so provides for cooking  and sitting around the tent to eat.  The proximity of the loch shore and open areas allow for play and other activities making for a good visitor experience.

This is a former Forestry Commission camping pitch where camping is now banned. It is sited within view of the useless ‘Three Lochs Forest Drive Zone L’ by Loch Achray

 

Pitch 1 just not up to scratch

 

12th March Sowing the nature of the surface that is pitch 1 Superficial cutting does not change anything it will grow back in a few weeks when the growing season starts.

In stark contrast the National Park’s  paid for replacement is just not suitable.  These low lying areas are sited well back from the shore on wild tussock grass which, by it’s very nature, is unsuitable for camping.  It is uncomfortable if not impossible to sleep on.  There is no firm ground to light a stove, place a seat or even sit or lie down on a beach towel.  Then consider these photographs were taken in the dormant season (March 12th/April 2nd) after winter die back, when new growth takes hold matters will rapidly worsen.   The old adage, good campsites are found not made holds true and if you insist in making them them they take years to create and require much more work than than a brush over with a strimmer.

 

Pitch 4

 

Pitch 4 has been trimmed leaving the solid core of tussocks with depressions of 8 to 10 inches the pitch remains unsuitable.

Pitch 5 fares only slightly better over a confined area.

The crux of the problem is the Park Board and senior staff clearly know nothing about camping and  the vision the Park Authority has for its camping provision is far from the expectation and previous experiences of visitors who have enjoyed camping at popular loch side spots for decades.  The most used camping places were popular for a reason, they were good for camping.

 

Pitch 6 – improvements or just hiding the problem?

12th March 2017 - before improvements 2nd April - after improvements            Pitch 6 -19th March compared to modified pitch 2nd April

Pitch 6 has been covered with grit. It’s not a material you want inside the tent and yet that’s exactly what’s going to happen here.

 

A bright quartz aggregate overlaid with a graded building material, it is not constrained at the edges and so is likely to spread out over the adjacent areas.  It is also likely that the finer materials will be washed into the aggregate with rain leaving an inappropriate bright quartz aggregate finish to the area.  This pitch surface requires to be a natural material in an ancient wood and where works have been carried out that should be grass  This grit is going to cause no end of aggravation to campers as it’s carried in to the tent and deposited in the sleeping area, wholly inappropriate.

 

The evidence of bramble stalks showing through the surface indicates the underlying ground cover of brambles will remain an issue as the removal of a bramble infestation can take up to 2 years of concerted effort of cutting back and digging out roots. Simply burying the problem out of sight will get you through the site handover but they will grow through in a matter of weeks.

 

Pitch 7

Pitch 7 19th March

Pitch 7 has been reworked

 

Disabled sites 8 and 9 have had a makeover

 

The two disabled pitches were an embarrassment see video of pitch 8 here.

 

The NP have attempted to constrain and divert the water course around pitch 8 while raising the finished surface of the pitch and that should solve the water problem. It is unclear whether the hardcore layer extends below the entire pitch.  If it does we can only hope the soil depth remains around six inches otherwise pegging out the tent base will be an issue. As to the brambles, these will almost certainly grow through the hardcore layer to the surface once more unless the entire subsoil was removed.

Park Authority re-sites pitch 10 and Pitch 12

Pitch 10

This is typical of the area of the former pitch 10, obviously not a good choice for camping. The former Pitch 10 a site of environmental destruction which was totaly avoidable if anyone at the NP Authority gave a shit.

Unbelievable but true, the site of the former pitch 10 was a peat bog.   Unfortunately when the Park Authority designates a pitch a mechanical digger drives across it for good measure.  The whole area should never have been selected in the first place, it’s just incompetence and results in a large area of unnecessary environmental damage.

Pitch 10  re-work

 

The new pitch is undoubtedly drier but unfortunately in the middle of a bramble patch with the trees to one side and the bog to the other.

 

New Pitch 10 Created on Bramble Patch Close up of Pitch 10 showing brambles and bracken

 

Brambles, an invasive species.BBC Life of Plants - Brambles

While it should be obvious with ground sheet piercing thorns, brambles and tents don’t mix and are to be avoided. It is unacceptable to construct a pitch containing or even adjacent to brambles as they will cause both financial loss to the camper and possible injury.

Pitch 11

 

Pitch 11 remains an uneven wet mess.

 

Pitch 12

 

The old Pitch 12 leaves a scar on the environment

 

Pitch 12 is re-sited from a slope to a more suitable area near by.  All that is now required is to reinstate the environmental damage to the old site (see LH image) and trim up the new site removing moss and grass clumps.

Pitch 13

Pitch 13 remains unusable even after trimming

N.B. Pitch 14 and 15 are reversed on site

Pitch 14 re-work includes surfacing with quartz aggregate infilled with fines

 

Having decided to do something about the problems at some of the pitches the National Park Authority has still failed to take on board the issues with their camping provision.  It’s simple.  Pitches require to be level, even, dry and able to take tent pegs with area of about 5 m X 5 m as a minimum to allow for cooking and other activities by the tent.

 

Pitch 14 showing slope to side of slope and down towards path.

 

The problem with Pitch 14, as with so many at Loch Chon, is size and the slope.  It’s just too steep to be a viable camping pitch.  In an attempt to make the pitch surface even, the Park Authority have covered the area with their inappropriate quartz aggregate / gravel mix and while it is now even they have completely failed to correct the slope which is far too steep to be used as a camping pitch.This is a double slope, across the hill and down the hill, and will cause campers to role into each other and  push the tent sides into the fly, letting water penetrate.

 

The second problem is that the topping used to provide an even surface is not constrained and will inevitably spread out over the surrounding area, reducing effectiveness and contaminating a far greater area.

 

Pitch 15

Marked 14 on post in error!

 

Similar solution to pitch 14 with grit.  Recent works have made the pitch level but the surface is not constrained so very quickly the whole of the aggregate will spread down the slope leaving the pitch back where it started.   The size of this pitch has been confined to around 5 square metres from the 25 or more square metres available.   A tent pitch requires to be at least twice the size of a tent footprint giving a desirable minimum of around 12 square metres  and an optimum minimum of 25 square metres for a two/three man tent.

 

The site selection is again poor with the lower point of the first image in a water course.

This project was doomed to failure but no one expected it to be quite so dramatic

 

The sad fact of the matter is that the Loch chon site was selected not on its merits as a camping site, nor due to demand for camping in the area.

 

It has been created for one reason, and one reason alone, to enable the LLTNPA to be able to say to the Minister that it had created a new campsite  by the 1st of March.and in doing so the environment of the ancient woodland at Loch Chon was no more than collateral damage.

 

How has this happened?

 

To create the Loch Chon campsite it is my opinion that the National Park Authority have engaged in a willful deception of the public and other stakeholders at every stage of this unwarranted development.

 

The LLTNPA have exaggerated the numbers using the area and any environmental concerns arising from that use.

 

They have deceived local communities and interested parties as to the care and attention they would exercise on the site to protect the greater environment while providing a sympathetic development.

 

They have intentionally misconstrued their own ranger figures making claims of equivalence of this site to the Forestry Commissions site at Sallochy.

 

The balance of the pitches and financial aspects of the project will be covereD in part two of this post…

March 30, 2017 Ross MacBeath 1 comment

By Ross MacBeath

Camping Forest Drive Zone B – 19th March 2017

Nothing more than Viewpoints pretending to be camping pitches.

 

This Forestry Commission map above details the path (green dots) through what is now Permit Zone ‘B’. It doesn’t refer to any camping locations, but hosts three viewpoints. With the lack of any other viable places to camp in the Lochan Reoidhte section of Forest Drive, it appears the  LLTNPA has effectively re-designated these viewpoints as the 3 camping pitches it claims to have created in this zone. In point of fact view point 2 is outside the permit zone, so if you camped there you would be risking a criminal record and £500 fine.

 

 

Camping Spot 1

 

Forest Drive Zone B - Viewpoint 1 Previous viewpoint compacted hardcore platform won't take tent pegs.
Hardcore standing  picnic area available for camping?

 

At first glance, Viewpoint 1 appears suitable as a camp pitch however it is an extension to the path, formed as a raised platform with the same compacted hardcore surface covered over with moss where tent pegs are unable to penetrate over most of the site.  Unable to stake out and secure the tent to the ground disqualifies this as a viable camping pitch.

Not family or group friendly

 

Though the largest of the 3 spots, an area this size can barely fit the footprint of a pop up tent or a self standing 2 man tent.  For an experienced wild camper (in the real sense) walking through the uncampable terrain round about, this pitch might be manna from heaven, but these pitches are supposed to meet the demand for camping out of cars and this site is not family or group friendly nor does it offer privacy or solitude.  This may be a reasonable picnic site with it’s fire ring and log seating seen as a welcome bonus, but its very poor for camping.

 

View to the North over the enormity of the roundabout at start of Forest Drive View South West spoiled by debris and forest cutting in the foreground.

 

Its the only pitch in Zone B with some views, but the one looking north takes in the enormity of forest drive and it’s huge roundabout and the other is spoiled by forestry operation waste wood.  While we have all grown to expect the Forestry Commission just to leave everything they cut down that has no monetary value, It would be reasonable to expect when they are charging access they should at least make an effort to clear the site of debris and even more so now it’s designated a paid for camping pitch..

Camping Spot 2, it’s illegal to camp here, it’s outside the permit zone.

 

Camping spot 2 and Camping spot 3 in reality are no more than the end of hard core paths which at onetime offered views over the surrounding area.  Now the forest has grown around them and there are no views to be had.   Camping here would be the equivalent of camping in a cupboard.  The two areas shown are at the end of the paths where they level out. They are both narrow and the second one too small to hold anything larger than a kids tent. Like viewpoint 1,  due to the hardcore path tents cannot be pegged out disqualifying both areas as suitable for camping.

This area is outside the permit zone and it is illegal t camp here. Viewpoint is just too small to take a tent, it's on hard core and has no views.

There seems to be some disconnect from reality in the minds of National Park staff who are selecting these permit zones.  It’s highly unlikely that anyone would visit this site and every consider camping here as it exhibits none of the desirable qualities that the National Parks website promotes as typical park camping areas, “Loch Side Views” and “Sunsets over Water”, “Grassy Knolls in Woodland Settings” and what we might expect here , “Mature Trees with expansive Leafy Forest Floors” between.

The Park Authority should know the requirements for recreational camping

 

Recreational Camping pitches by definition require space around them to allow human occupancy for cooking, relaxing and just playing around by the tent.  The LLTNPA terms and conditions state that a 5 x 5 metre area is the maximum a visitor can occupy having purchased a permit.  Yet on Forest Drive campers  are expected somehow to enjoy a wonderful recreational camping experience in something between 2 and 5 square metres.

 

The Park Authority needs to stop using the footprint of the tent as the sizing criteria for a recreational pitch – claiming that any small gap in the brambles or heather counts as a camping place – and take on board that 5 x 5 metres of usable ground is the minimum required.

The designation of “Camping (Permit) Zone” to this area is a fantasy

 

As with so many of the other camping permit zones created by the LLTNPA, the Greater Area of Zone B just does not have any places suitable for pitching a tent

 

The maps provided by LLTNPA  misrepresent the situation on the ground. They show what appears to be a forest location with an open grassy space or flat ground to the north and east of the tracks and a wider area at the start of the zone nearer the gate.This all gives the impression of choice for a would be visitor but in reality there is not.

 

So as elsewhere the scale of the camping provision is greatly exaggerated misleading visitors into the false impression they have the ability to choose a pitch anywhere within the boundary of the Zones.

 

The so called camping zone is on a hill side and the entire area between the Forest Drive up to the almost parallel track through the forest is a slope too steep or too rough for camping. This photograph of the quarry that is now a designated Motor Home pitch – is this a place you would want to stop off in a campervan? – give a good idea of the slope steepness.

Going north beyond the forest track the ground levels out a little however the entire area is the remains of a previously harvested forest that nature has reclaimed. The video gives a view of the real situation in the entire zone including the forested areas.

 

The areas to the side of the track are overgrown, rough in places and unsuitable for pitching tents with views only in a couple of places.   In any cases these paths are promoted for day visitors and while camping right by such a path offers the camper no privacy it also intrudes on the experience of the day visitor who is forced to walk right by the tent.   The LLTNPA has claimed that shore camping prevents day visitors from visiting the loch shores when actually there is space on the loch shores for all, unlike here.

The Permit Booking system refers to limited parking being available for the 3 camping places in Zone B or the two further places across the drive in Zone C.     Apart from the site for a campervan at the end of Zone B (photo above) there is nowhere else to park.  Moreover the Park’s terms and conditions state you must not park on the verge so it’s a bit of a mystery where, if 5 groups ever camped here, where they are going to park.

No new camping provision, no new facilities, price hike 250%

Before the Camping Byelaws it cost £2 to access Forest Drive and was free to camp in Zone B and C if you were determined to do so.  It now costs £5 pounds to camp from your car, two and a half times more for no added value. This is a ridiculous considering their are no facilities,  there are no viable pitches nor any choice of places to pitch a tent.  This is not an attractive location in National Park terms and does no even guarantee your right to park within the permit zones.

The Park Authority have failed to provide the requisite number of pitches in Zone B

 

The LLTNPA’s attempt to take control and manage access in the National Park is a disaster.  It’s difficult to categorise  Forest Drive as failure, as that would imply that some remedy was possible.  The LLTNPA clearly understands nothing about camping – its staff really need to get out and do it – and have made no effort to provide any positive experience for campers.   This is despite inviting people, some of whom will have never camped before, to camp here.
It has without doubt been a conscious decision, fully underwritten by the LLTNPA board, to create a customer facing web presence and a network of signs that misdirects visitors and con Government Ministers and other stakeholders into believing that 300 “new” camping places have been delivered.   Clearly, they have not.

 

All this is being done with slight of hand, using those age old propaganda devices maps,  pamphlets and press releases (fantastically designed – who would ever think they were a pile of mince?) to mask their continuing breaches of trading standards, advertising standards, even on occasion, health and safety standards.  How is this ethical and how does it meet the standards for services that the public has a right to expect?  Why is Forestry Commission Scotland going along with this?

March 27, 2017 Ross MacBeath 1 comment
By Ross MacBeath
View from 1 of 3 existing pitches in Zone B. This overlooks roundabout at entrance to forest drive Zones B and C.
Entrance to Forest Drive Zones B and C

Forest Drive

In order to stop people from camping by the loch shores and to meet their commitment to Scottish Ministers to deliver 300 “new” camping pitches, the LLTNPA had to find somewhere else for people to camp – so they leaned on Forestry Commission Scotland to use their land and have “created” no less than 76 permit places (just four of which are for campervans) along Forest Drive north of Aberfoyle.   In the past, the camping here has been mainly by Loch Drunkie, which has a few places close to the loch side which are good for camping, and the south shore of Loch Achray.   I went to have a look at the “new” areas and this post focuses on “Zone C”  so readers can understand the implications of what the LLTNPA is doing to campers.

Forest Drive Camping Zone C

The National Parks new maps of Zone ‘C’ indicate large expanses of open ground in a woodland locations with what looks like ample opportunity to choose a camping place by the waters edge or in among the trees.

 

Arriving just after 4 PM I  found locked gates, a now common occurrence in part of a park wide policy of denying access to visitors outside office hours.  Worse, it seems the code for exit is only granted if payment has been made through their permit booking system, effectively making access to our National Park on a pay as you go basis. Information on the Three Lochs Forest Drive page  states that “The drive is open to vehicles from Easter to October, daily from 9am”  The byelaws however started on of 1st March so this means there is a denial of access to 72 camping and 4 motorhome places until the 16th of April this year. Surely not!   Or maybe the LLTNPA just  need more time to get some camping provision in place at Forest Drive.

 

Access to Forest Drive and other gated facilities is in disarray

 

The Three Lochs Forest Drive page tells us access will be available until 4 pm and the exit gate locked at 5 pm after which a code is required to exit.  Other locations have different opening and closing times and the T&Cs for Loch Chon contradicts itself.  Confusion reigns and the National Park and Forestry Commission need to get their act together because at the moment it is the visiting public that is suffering through wasted journeys and uncertainties.  It is unacceptable to lock out visitors after encouraging them them  to drive for an hour and a half gain access to forest drive only to be turned away by a locked gate. Quite clearly visitors are being excluded from this area of the National Park at a time when access is most desirable, in the evening after work or as in this case, Sunday afternoon.

 

Camping Zone C

A Camping Zone without camping pitches

Camping Zone C is a short distance along a wider than expected compacted hard core road, not what the the term “Forest Drive” conjures up, more of a  superhighway.  The vista beyond the boundary sign, though beautiful, was clearly not the camping ground expected. The description on the LLTNPA  booking site warns of some “uneven terrain in places” but nothing like this.  In point of fact the entire zone is uneven in the extreme, except for a path that’s not indicated on their map. It’s is not an area one would choose to enter or cross if it could be avoided never mind to search out and use a camping pitch. A clear case of false advertising and  LLTNPA will find themselves challenged legally about this and many similar misrepresentations that comprise their  so called “camping provision”.

 

North West corner of permit zone 'C' with first perimeter post back right.
First view of Camping Zone C – a shocking place to camp

This entire zone is unsuitable for recreational camping

 

Not seeing anything that resembles a camping place from the road, I walked around the perimeter marked out by a line of yellow topped wooden posts.  This gives a view from the perimeter in to the Camping Zone and I hoped I would be able to identify potential camping places along the way. You can view progress by clicking on the grid below and scroll/ click through the gallery to view each image in turn.

.

Zone C view from North perimeter towards loch View from First perimeter marker pole towards South East View west to secon perimeter post View to centre of Zone C sowing nature of wooded area. Looing back to post 2 showing density of wooded are on north perimeter View west to the west end of loch South westerly boundary post, view alomg loch side toward east Loch shore line prone to flooding. Continuation of shore line towards the east showing slope and rough gound. Shoreline further towards east, very rough and slope down to lochside First sight of Pitch 1 from perimeter walk round Boggy area to the west of Pitch 1 Boggy area to the west of pitch 1, showing water depth.

No natural pitches and the two created are not suitable as they stand

 

In the absence of any natural pitches big enough to take a tent, the National Park Authority have been forced into a botched attempt to create them to meet their requirements to deliver at least two pitches in permit zone C. Form a visitor perspective, you would expect to have a choice of at least 6 to 10 prime locations in a zone of this size

The two pitches are concentrated is a small area beside the path and it's true extents are shown in green.
Camping Zone C showing location of two pitches in green

The National Park Authorities Camping Permit Conditions state:

  • “Avoid pitching your tent on ground that is already trampled or has dying vegetation cover. Pitch on durable surfaces, such as gravel, and grasses.
  • Choose a safe place to pitch your tent.  Your choice of where to pitch your tent is at your own risk.”

Zone C – camping pitch 1

 

Pitch 1 is a semi natural pitch on at a loch side location. The pitch is bounded by the loch to the south, a bog to the west and a slope to all other aspects.  The area is constrained and was too small for a tent.

A small loch side area on a gentle slope, has been enlarged by cutting back heather to accomodate small tent with hazards.

Ground work in the form of cutting away a heather patch has been required to increase the area to allow pitching a small tent.  The works have been botched insofar as they have not removed the heather roots so regrowth will occur this season but more importantly, in cutting back the heather, the Park Authority have left sharp heather stalks which will hole any tent floor pitched upon it, not to mention the possibility of stabbing injuries to humans. The site slopes to the loch and is waterlogged.

Sharp spikes left after heather cut back to enlarge pitch - puncture hazard Heather spikes causing hazard

The water level is 2 inches below the camping surface making it wet and the shore line is soft and in danger of collapsing under human loads at the edge.  The loch is deep at this location and this poses a threat especially to children. The lack of level space to manoeuvre around any camping pitch is a issue.  This pitch is just not suitable for recreational camping except perhaps for the smallest of tents in dry weather and if  ground cover issues were resolved.  However this camping pitch breaches advice in the Camping Permit Conditions insofar as it does not constitute a safe area to camp.

Zone C – Camping pitch 2

 

It’s hard to understand who would believe the mere strimming of an area in this location would result in a serviceable camping pitch.  The Park Authority have chosen an area beside the existing path down towards the loch shore view point just off the main track.

Branch off path to pitch 2

They have cut a the heather back to form line through the dense vegetation which its easy to walk past.  It is not a path with a hard surface nor is it a typical worn path only a gap in the vegetation, it’s highlighted above with flash.

Pitch 2 - Heather cut back leaving 4 - 6 inch spikes in the middle of pitch

On reaching the end in this short ‘path’ there is a second area that has been trimmed back to reduce the height of vegetation in the mass of moss, heather and thick grasses that blanket the zone. It remains 6 – 8 inches thick and is not a suitable surface for pitching a tent and securing tent pegs to the ground is problematic. As before, the cut heather stalks have been left 4 to 6 inches long which would cause injury to any person and tent using this site.  The site is small and there is nowhere to erect a seat , use a stove  or lie down to relax.

Heather spikes pitch 2 Thick vegetation covering on pitch 2 - unsuitable for pitching tent or recreational camping

Cooking, even with a stove would pose a real fire risk and without firm ground as as stated in their own Camping Permit Conditions, recreational camping cannot take place.

Tick and Midge Haven

The nature of the vegetation cover interspaced with standing water makes this Zone an ideal breading ground for midges and ticks, the dense vegetation provides an insulated layer at root level that allows insect eggs, larvae, pupae, nymphs, or adults to overwinter in all but the severest conditions thus guaranteeing large insect populations in the summer months.  Not a place you would want to spend time.

Spectacularly failed, even when doing nothing.

 

Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Authority and their board are responsible for misleading the public and other agencies on a massive scale.  It is clear they have failed to provide equivalent camping pitches for those camping out of cars.  The very campers they have banned from all their management zones. Its hard to imagine camping of any type being viable anywhere in Zone C.

 

Besides double counting existing pitches as new provision (Loch Lubnaig and Sallochy to meet their target of 300 new places) the LLTNPA are trying to muddy the waters by renaming out of car camping style as a wild camping experience both at Loch Chon and elsewhere.  They are doing this so they can justify the poor provision at Loch Chon, their failure to provide new facilities and for doing absolutely nothing to ensure there are viable places to camp in the locations they have decided to allow camping by permit.    We can see this from the images for zone C and the many other camping zones that are devoid of any places which it is feasible let alone good to camp.

 

It’s time for the Scottish Government to scrap these byelaws, the LLTNPA have spectacularly failed to meet their commitments and are not competent to manage camping.

March 23, 2017 Ross MacBeath No comments exist

By Ross MacBeath

 

For the last year parkswatch has been covering the development of the con at Loch Chon, the campsite the Loch Lomond and Trossachs LTNPA has created in a place few people go, in order to meet its promise to the Scottish Government to provide new camping facilties in the National Park (see here), (here)(here) and (here) for example.  So, what is the truth in the LLTNPA’s claim that this unwanted campsite was up and running on 1st March?

Toilet flushing and the lack thereof.

Sunday 19th March 2017: there was still no water to the toilet blocks even after the recent assurances by the National Park in the press and at their 13th of March Board meeting.

Click image to view video!

The Park’s claim that the campsite is fully operational is no more than a blatant attempt to hide the facts and misdirect ministers overseeing the terms for implementation of the Byelaws.  The Park Authority claim a contingency is in place, which I believe means the Park Rangers may have to manually flush with a bucket of water before they leave at 5 pm.  In any case all of the toilet cisterns were empty and two of the toilets had been fouled.  Human excrement will collect overnight in the toilet bowls, a disgusting sight and health risk to bedraggled visitors to this site.  The lack of hand washing within the toilet block forces visitors to use the drinking water taps providing cross contamination and a further risk to public health.

 

The National Park Authority claims there has only been an interruption in water for a few days is untrue.  This is the 3rd consecutive week of on site checks that show no water at all on the 5th and 12th March, and then on the 19th March there was drinking water from the outside taps but still no toilets or wash hand basins. It is time the Authority took care of it’s responsibilities to public health and closed this site until these issues are remedied.  The contrast between the Park’s attitude at Milarrochy, where it is closing the slipway allegedly for health and safety reasons and this campsite is striking.

 

Camping Pitches

 

No additional works have been carried out on pitches apart from a trimming to pitch one where the grasses have been shortened and a central stake removed. This has made no material difference to it’s serviceability as a camping pitch and around 22 remain unsuitable.

 

Disabled camping pitches are a disgrace

 

The National Parks recent statement that disabled facilities within the park are to be a focus of future developments fail at the first hurdle. Printing a blue sign on the map does not make a camping pitch suitable for disabled use. There are two designated pitches and both fail to come up to basic standards. They have been selected for their proximity to parking and toilet facilities and are positioned on a level area of the site and in that respect they comply with requirements providing the rise of the path can be negotiated by wheelchairs.

Click image to view video! – Disabled Pitch 8

Disabled Pitch 8 is sited on a natural water course which tends to flood in wet weather.  This leaves a portion of the pitch in standing water, and the remainder, though level and relatively even, is a former briar patch with brambles covering the site andwith evidence of bracken having been cut back to the ground surface without removing the roots.

 

Further down towards the Loch is Disabled pitch 9. This is a drier area and ground cover is formed by tussock grasses giving an uneven pitch surface, though not the worst example, it is unsuitable for pitching a tent especially at £ 7.00 per night.

Pitch 9 – Disabled Pitch

Visitor lock outs and lock ins.

 

The gates to the Loch Chon campsite are being locked on a daily basis in what has become standard practice and denies access by visitors to campsites and many camping zones. The on site ranger explained this now happens at 5PM not the 4 PM we experienced on the 12th of March.  The ranger went on to explain that toilets would remain locked if there were no Loch Chon Gates Closed no access for drop in campsers.campsite bookings.  I expect it also follows if there are no campsite bookings, the Park Authority will  fail to honour it’s commitment to the Strathard Community to provide staff at the site 7 days a week well into the evening. Leaving day visitors and others to their own devices.

 

This is all very confusing, and makes a mockery of  the Park’s own terns and conditions for using campsites and permits, which clearly state that access to the campsites and camping zones will be available until 6 pm. How they ever expect someone to leave work at 5pm on a Friday and arrive before their Rangers lock up at 6pm will remain a mystery to all but the fools who write their terms and conditions.  The whole policy is in disarray, sites close at different times, Forest Drive gates close a 4 PM, campsites at 4 pm, 5pm or 6 pm.   No one appears to be managing this but what is clear, it will be visitors who are out of pocket making wasted journeys and not getting access.

 

It is clear the National Park Authority are opening and closing campsites and camping zones to suit staffing availability and not the needs of the visiting public.  .

See Full Terms and Conditions here.

 

Terms and Conditions – unable to comply

 

Due to the fact the Park Authority has not provided the necessary facilities on site it is impossible at present for visitors to comply with their terms and conditions.   The Park insist, on penalty of a £200 fine, that litter, refuse and dog poo is deposited in the bins provided.  The bin area is still housing a Diesel Generator – quite why when they destroyed the ecology of the hillside opposite running a mains cable up to a a transformer on the grid system is not clear – but there has not been a bin in sight on my visits.
Having failed to provide the services advertised, toilets and proper camping pitches, the Park’s terms and conditions state the Park has no liability whatsoever for the state of the site and will only offer a refund if you can prove their negligence or responsibility for your loss. If you are considering pitching a tent on the pitches at Loch Chon, you have a high possibility of puncturing the ground sheet because of the state of the ground vegetation in the pitches provided, and it appears that the Park is trying to avoid having to pay compensation while at the same time threatening to fine people £500 if they camp off pitch.

September 23, 2016 Ross MacBeath No comments exist

– by Ross MacBeath

At the public meeting with Strathard Community Council, Gordon Watson, the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park Authority Chief Executive, tried to justify the creation of a large campsite at Loch Chon by referring to the campsite at Sallochy, on east Loch Lomond.  While this is also on Forestry Commission land, demand there is totally different, as this analysis shows.

 

While the LLTNPA have tried to say that demand is not relevant to planning applications, posted on the planning portal alongside the planning application is a Question and Answer sheet which includes the following:

 

Q: Why is the proposed site for 33 pitches (now 26)?

A: Following a full site assessment, this is the maximum number of pitches that the site can accommodate at periods of peak demand.

As current peak demand is nowhere near this level, it appears the Park is going to dragoon campers and force them to stay at Loch Chon, whether they want to or not.   All the statistics on which this analysis is based have been obtained through Freedom of Information requests.

 

Appraisal of the situation at Sallochy

 

The Sallochy campsite which has 30 places, is on the shores of east Loch Lomond and was created in 2011.  While the number of pitches is similar to Loch Chon, even with the recent reduction to 26 pitches, the layouts are different, the toilets are different and most importantly the clientele is different.  Sallochy is open from March to October.

 

Sallochy services the West Highland Way and that is now where the majority of its users come from. Without this huge bolus of WHW travellers Sallochy would be oversized for the provision of car based camping in the area.

 

Other than July and August, the peak holiday months, Sallochy is underused for the rest of the time it is open.   Percentage occupancy is high for these 2 busiest months and drops off to lower figures at other times (just like wild camping in the National Park).

1

 

The number of pitches is 30 and this give a pitch availability of 900 to 930 per month (dependent on the number of days in the month)

2

3

The same pattern is shown if you look at the number of campers rather than tents.

4

 

If you compare Current Demand (2015) and Capacity at Sallochy it looks like this:

5The conclusion is that Demand and Capacity at Sallochy are well matched in the peak summer months, less so in May and June but the site is virtually empty March, April September and October or more than half the season.

 

Current Demand for Camping in Loch Chon

6a

The number of pitches is based on tents recorded by Rangers.  While the records only cover weekends as no ranger patrols are made midweek, however midweek numbers are insignificant.   The Current Demand does not come anywhere near the capacity of the Park Authorities new 26 Pitch proposal for Loch Chon, the total Number of pitches per month is  806 (May, Jul, Aug) and 780.(Apr, Jun, Sep).

 

The current demand applied to the new site shows a huge over capacity.

6

To apply the same design criteria to Loch Chon as used at Sallochy, where demand is fed by the West Highland Way, makes no sense.  While there is a path network in the area, the only way demand will rise is if people can camp elsewhere and link campsites, but the byelaws will stop that.  A portion of this camping provision should be sited along the path network in the area. The 9 place Loch Lubnaig campsite would be a much more valid comparison of the size of campsite needed.

 

The site at Sallochy and its demands have no relationship to Loch Chon and it is not helpful to associate the two as being similar  in this respect.

Return on Investment

 

Gordon Watson stated at the public meeting the LLTNPA would build the site and review the situation next year. Surely it would be better to review the situation properly before committing the Park Authority to spending £345,000.  It’s reasonable to assume once spent a need for the LLTNPA to get a return on investment will drive forward promotion of the area as a centre for camping and other sports.  Whether this will work is doubtful and the money is likely to be wasted.

 

Vehicles

 

The other primary concern for the community at Strathard has been the number of vehicles that could be attracted to the site.  Its harder to compare Loch Chon with Sallochy in this respect because at Sallochy many of the campers walk in from the West Highland Way. Moreover while there is a reserved Car Park for those who have purchased a tent pitch there is also a public car park and this is one of few places you can still stop off on east Loch Lomond.   So, there is no direct correlation between pitches sold and vehicles counted.

 

The vehicle recorder for the public car park shows the Recorded figures for vehicles and their occupants using the car park at Sallochy in the 2015 season is 17,089 cars and 30,760 people an average of 1.8 persons per car.    While a higher proportion of visitors are likely to access Loch Chon by car, the total will be much lower unless fuelled by  displacement or marketing by the LLTNPA  to achieve a return on investment.  Its thus very difficult to predict vehicle numbers but it is likely to be low.

 

What is needed at Loch Chon

 

What is called for is another solution, and that is simple to achieve. Create a 12 pitch formal site supported by a 6 pitch informal site (without defined pitches) in a designated area that can be used when the small number of days when the peak demand rises above the capacity of 12 pitches,  around 5 days in the 2015 season and that will take care of the low frequency high demands of good weather days.

 

The Planning Committee on Monday should think again and reduce the size of the campsite.

 

September 9, 2016 Ross MacBeath No comments exist

In fact, its three leaves, that’s right in just 3 pages (at the bottom of this post) the New Forest National Park lays out its entire litter management plan in terms even a layman can understand.  It’s cost effective and keeps the park clean. It does all this without access restricting bye-laws or management zones or the destructive negativity Loch Lomond &TNP exhibits towards its visitors. It is a positive approach which just gets the job done.

 

Small but perfectly formed

 

At only 220 square miles the New Forest National Park is less than one third of the area of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs’ 720 square miles. However, its network of roads and 150 forest car parks handle 13,555,400 visitor days per year which dwarfs the Loch Lomond &TNP in all respects [circa 7m visitor days]. Despite these huge numbers they provide unprecedented access through their network of car parks each one with that most essential of items, a litter bin, ensuring the best chance of keeping the Park spotlessly clean as part of an effective litter management policy and a shared £250k annual bill for collecting/picking up litter in the countryside.

 

Surprisingly they have only 5 full time rangers supported by another 5 from The Forestry Commission and 70 volunteer rangers so it’s easy to see it’s not brute force of patrolling that makes a difference. So what’s their secret?  In truth, it’s all down to having implemented a proper litter management strategy.

 

Smaller still, but out of touch

 

img_5203-small-2
P & K litter bin Loch Earn – Photo Credit Nick Kempe

Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park with much of its area inaccessible to the litter dropping public has identified only 3.7% of the park as problem zones or 27 square miles. The cost of collecting/picking up litter in this area would equate to £ 31 K on a pro-rata basis with the New Forest.  Given that household litter collection is already a feature in many areas it should be possible to do this for a similar amount  to be shared between local Councils, Forestry Commission Scotland and Transport Scotland. Indeed Perth and Kinross Council already do this.  However, 10 years on, the Loch Lomond &TNP has spectacularly failed to deliver any effective infrastructure for visitors or rural sites in most of the National Park.

 

Meetings about meetings as the Park Authorities failure to act continues

 

Loch Lomond &TNP admitted this in their first conclusion reached at a meeting in June 13th 2016 to discuss litter management

rossIt’s obvious to all that a litter bin to contain this bag would have prevented this situation.

Innovative Approach or just good Management?

 

The New Forest are to be congratulated on their approach which involves the public in a very constructive manner. The park authority takes their own responsibilities seriously by coordinating public awareness of where to report litter problems and the Councils and Forestry Commission are fully on board understanding what is expected of them. The innovative use of technology to allow easy reporting to be carried out using an app directly involves the public encouraging them to take ownership of the problem.

A stark and damning contrast

In stark contrast to the New Forest, LLTNPA employs lots of rangers with 30 full time rangers (some water-based), 30 seasonal rangers supported by a further 150 volunteer rangers.  In addition, there are 3 forestry Rangers assigned to duties on the East Loch Lomond shore and where their schedules permit, access is available to 3 more park wide.   Historically the role of “Ranger” has been educational rather than about policing and Rangers have been viewed with respect through their love and knowledge of the countryside and our National Parks. The Park Authority is undermining that position by turning them into parking wardens and a quasi police force and not providing the infrastructure that would make their jobs possible.

 

Polar opposites

 

It can be seen  the two management strategies is polarised and comparing them it is clear which one comes out on top; do away with the regulation, enforcement, bylaws and other unnecessary distractions and get on with the job of managing the National Park is the clear message.

 

Loch Lomond &TNP’s failure to implement a litter strategy makes them complicit in littering through their failure to act.  Instead they capitalise by taking images of the very mess they are responsible for creating to justify the byelaws no one wants. They continue to waste taxpayer’s money on ineffective campaigns, enforcement and ranger patrols when it is clear that without the infrastructure in place they will fail. The requirement for litter bins and a man with a van to empty them is not so difficult a concept to grasp, so why year after year are we presented with another set of excuses and round of blame shifting to another group of visitors?   Meanwhile the litter management strategy is still in draft.

 

No Consensus on any Litter Management Strategy but full agreement on fines.

 

Their meeting agenda to try and convince the public that they are on top of litter management is a distraction to convince those who monitor that some progress has been made. It refers to initiatives from 2014 and ends with a second conclusion which says it all, another tranche of fixed penalties and enforcement to penalise a beleaguered public is the only way forward:

 

7.2. The Park Authority has made progress on the public information and awareness aspects with the litter emphasis of the RESPECT Your Park campaign and also the enforcement aspect with the use of Fixed Penalty Notice Powers being introduced this summer.

Appendix 1 – Fixed Penalty Notice Policy

Appendix 2 – Fixed Penalty Notice Scheme of Delegation

 

The truth is the introduction of Fixed Penalty Notices is creating confusion among visitors who want to put rubbish in its place but are confounded by the fact in large areas of the Park there is simply no place to put it.

 

New Forest Litter Strategy

(see http://www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/info/20096/unspoilt_landscape/44/litter )

new-forest

The New Forest’s unspoilt natural beauty is one of the things that people value most about the area. In general, the air and streams are clean and away from the roadsides and car parks there is very little litter.

Sadly, a minority of people deliberately throw food packaging from their cars, allow pieces of plastic to blow from open-backed vehicles, leave litter in parking areas and even deliberately dump quantities of waste materials if they think they can get away with it.

We work with partner organisations, especially the Forestry Commission and New Forest District Council, to raise awareness of the problems caused by litter and to tackle them.

If you see excessive litter in the New Forest, please report it. This can now be done using the New Forest In Touch mobile app which can be downloaded for free.

 

Reporting litter and fly-tipping

 

The sooner litter and fly-tipped material is cleared up the better. Some roads are checked and cleaned on a regular schedule, but most are done when needed, so your help in telling us when there is a problem is appreciated.

The New Forest National Park spans a wide area in which different organisations have responsibility for collecting and disposing of waste, removing litter and following up reports of fly-tipping on public land. Public land includes roads, pavements, council-owned car parks, parks and recreation areas, laybys etc.

New Forest District Council is responsible throughout much of the National Park although, as land owner, the Forestry Commission has responsibility for the Crown Land. In Wiltshire (between Landford and Redlynch) responsibility falls to Wiltshire Council, and around Canada and West Wellow, Test Valley Borough Council is responsible.

Further information is available on the websites of these organisations and some have online reporting forms.

Please be ready to give as much information as you can, such as:

  • your own name and address, contact telephone number or e-mail address;
  • the location and description of litter or fly-tipping;
  • any information on perpetrators.

Contact details:

New Forest District Council
023 8028 5000
Report litter and fly-tipping using the New Forest in Touch mobile app which can be downloaded for free.
customer.services@nfdc.gov.uk
www.newforest.gov.uk

Wiltshire Council
0300 456 0100
www.wiltshire.gov.uk

Test Valley Borough Council
01264 368000
environmentalservice@testvalley.gov.uk
www.testvalley.gov.uk

Forestry Commission
General enquiries (office hours): 0300 067 4601
enquiries.southern@forestry.gsi.gov.uk
Urgent enquiries (24/7): 0300 067 4600
www.forestry.gov.uk/newforest

 

What is being done

Although we are not directly responsible for litter in the National Park, we do work with local organisations to try to reduce the amount of litter dropped and to increase the effectiveness of litter collection.

This work is coordinated through the Joint Litter Working Group which is attended by staff from the National Park Authority, Forestry Commission and New Forest District Council.

As the Principle Litter Authority for most of the National Park, New Forest District Council has a team of people who are tasked with regular waste collections and a range of other litter-related activities. However, much is also done by land owners, especially the Forestry Commission which is responsible for the Crown Lands, and illegal activities are followed up by the Police and Environment Agency.

The estimated cost of litter removal in the New Forest is over £250,000 per year.

Recent joint initiatives include:

  • Each year, staff visit schools across the New Forest to talk at assemblies and to individual classes about why it is so important not to drop litter. These are specially themed sessions that appeal to the age of the children and link to their curriculums.
  • Rangers and education staff often talk with people who might not normally think about litter through public events and at local fetes. Some of these are ideal for the topic – for example an annual Marine Wonders event at Lepe Country Park is a great place to talk about the effects of litter on the sea.
  • Each year, litter picks are organised in a variety of places, ranging from beaches to Open Forest. Usually these are instigated by local community groups but equipment such as litter pickers and tabards can be supplied on loan. Guidance on organising a litter pick is available from the District Council, which is able to call by to pick up bags at the end of the event. Following the success of the Clean for the Queen event in March 2016 we intend to promote an annual ‘spring clean’ – please let us know if your group or organisation would like to get involved.
  • Litter bins are provided at key locations throughout the Forest. Specially designed litter bins have been installed in villages where ponies graze. Not only are the bins pony-proof, but they have a routed ‘message’ saying how important it is not to leave litter where the animals might try to eat it. The Forestry Commission’s car park litter bins are also pony-proof and carry the same message; some locations have double-sized bins to cope with the demand.
  • Each year, posters are put up at key locations across the New Forest including car parks and windows of local businesses. To catch the eye of regular visitors, posters are changed at regular intervals, and rotated with posters about other important topics.
  • Increasingly, social media is used to encourage people not to drop litter. Through Facebook and Twitter we can reach a very wide local and visiting audience.
  • Roadsides are regularly litter picked by NFDC contractors, either at a regular frequency or when excessive litter is reported. This currently includes a contract with the Forestry Commission to cover Crown Land roadsides.
  • Hampshire County Council and Highways England are both committed to liaising with NFDC to ensure that where possible litter picking is coordinated with verge maintenance activities.
  • Please visit our webpage signposting people to the best ways of reporting litter. No single organisation is responsible for litter across the whole of the National Park, and it really helps those who are responsible to be quickly informed when there is a problem.
  • New Forest organisations have joined Tidy Britain Group’s Love Where You Live campaign. This encourages people to take pride in their local area and inspire them to get out there and make it the kind of place they want to live and work. It is planned to be a 10-year national campaign with widespread advertising and we welcome this additional publicity.
  • There are some good examples of local businesses that actively encourage their customers to take litter seriously and, for example, staff from the McDonalds restaurant at Picket Post regularly litter pick nearby roadsides. We hope to work with other local businesses to encourage best practice wherever possible.