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 Copy of letter to Scotsman Newspaper on Camping
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Posted - 02/06/2016 :  17:55:33  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
This letter to the editor was published in the Scotsman recently from Dave Morris, lately retired Scottish Director of Ramblers Scotland. It gives an interesting insight into the basic unfairness underlying the approval recently given by the Scottish Environment Minister of the NPA's new Camping Byelaw, to become law in April 2017.

"Your report on the Scottish Government’s decision to approve camping byelaws in the Loch Lomond National Park is inaccurate (Scotsman 27 Jan). The proposal is not to create 300 informal camping places and a permit system elsewhere but to create just 30 camping places by Loch Chon and all the remaining provision being through a permit system. This is a drop in the ocean which has no hope of meeting the public need for camping facilities in this national park.

More significantly, however, the decision to replace a statutory right with arrangements based on paid facilities and permits, is the worst land reform decision by a Government Minister since the Scottish Parliament was established in 1999. Dr Aileen Mcleod and her SNP colleagues have demonstrated an almost total disregard of the evidence available to her on the scale of the camping problem in the Park and the potential solutions.

Going for a walk one day in the Park and looking at lots of photos of litter, while listening to tales of bad behaviour, is no substitute for accurate data and a proper understanding of the basis of Scotland’s rights of public access to our land and water. All of the problems described by the Minister – damage, litter, encampment, anti social behaviour etc – are already dealt with under other legislation.

Can she not ask her colleagues in the Scottish Government to explain why Police Scotland is failing, year after year, to enforce the criminal law, and instead wants to prosecute innocent citizens who want to stay in a tent or campervan while fully abiding by the Scottish Outdoor Access Code and road traffic legislation?

This decision does, however, demonstrate that the First Minister’s commitment to “radical” land reform is nothing but hot air. The SNP achievements on land reform since coming to power in 2007 are minimal. Even worse, they are now embarked on a course of action which will undermine the progress made by Labour and Liberal Democrat politicians, supported by key SNP MSPs, who secured world class rights of public access to our land and water in 2003.

Replacing a statutory right with a system which relies on paid facilities and permits, just because you cannot be bothered to apply existing laws and management solutions is a dereliction of duty.

Nevertheless the Park Convener should be happy, as she sits in her garden by Loch Venachar, dabbling her toes in the nearby water, and raises her champagne glass to a Scottish Government who have forgotten what equality of opportunity for all our citizens is supposed to mean."

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