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Authorities Call for Responsibility while Camping

Image Courtesy of Perth and Kinross Council

As COVID restrictions begin to ease, visitors to Perth and Kinross are being urged to remain considerate in their visits to local beauty spots and in using roads and amenities.

Perth and Kinross Council along with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) are reminding visitors of the dangers that may arise when proper safety precautions like fire safety are forgotten or when litter is left behind.

Whilst for the most part visitors are respectful, 2020 saw a number of occurrences of anti-social behaviour such as littering and vandalism as well as cars parked in narrow rural roads, making it difficult for traffic – especially emergency vehicles – to pass through safely. 

With some of Scotland’s most beautiful scenic spots on our doorstep, Perth and Kinross is expecting an influx of visitors as travel restrictions ease.

Watch Commander of the Scottish Fire & Rescue Service (SFRS), Campbell Sands, said: 

“The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, welcomes people to the beautiful countryside and rural locations in Perth and Kinross.  Our main concern will always be the safety of the people of Scotland and with this in mind, as travel restrictions lift, we ask those of you venturing out, to be mindful of your surroundings and to remember your responsibilities.

“Fire can destroy a tent in less than 60 seconds, and I would urge people to follow the SFRS Tent Safety tips as follows: 

  • Cook a safe distance from the tent walls, as they can easily catch fire.
  • Never use candles in or near a tent (torches are far safer).
  • Never cook inside a small tent or take a portable barbeque – or lit charcoal– into an enclosed space like a tent.
  • Never cook near long grass or flammable materials which can quickly ignite.
  • Never smoke inside a tent.
  • Make sure you know how to cut your way out of the tent, to escape if there is a fire.
  • Make sure everyone knows how to put out clothing that’s on fire – stop, drop, and roll.

“Ensure tents are at least six metres apart and well away from parked cars. This will help reduce the risk of fire spreading. Never use petrol or paraffin to light a barbeque or campfire and use only recognised lighters or starter fuels on cold coals.  Also keep a mobile phone charged and close at hand, for use in emergencies.”

Perth & Kinross Council along with SFRS and Forestry and Land Scotland are introducing a range of steps and initiatives aimed at addressing the issues and informing visitors on how to visit the area respectfully and remain mindful of not only COVID safety precautions but safety and camping protocols in accordance with the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.

Image Courtesy of Perth and Kinross Council

Perth & Kinross Council’s Depute Director of Communities Clare Mailer said: 

“Most brush, grass and forest fires are caused by the careless disposal of hot embers, ash, or cigarettes. To ensure everyone’s safety and protect our natural beauty spots we ask visitors to do their part to stay fire safe.

“If you are building a campfire, please choose a spot for your campfire and dig a shallow pit. Ensure your site is downwind from your tent and protected from wind gusts. Clear a 10-foot-wide diameter area around your site, and make sure there are no tree limbs or branches hanging over your pit. Always circle the pit with rocks or use an existing fire ring if there is one available.  Do not cut trees or bushes down or damage or steal any other property for fuel.

“The most important step is to extinguish the fire. Campers need to properly maintain and extinguish campfires when going to bed or leaving the area. If possible, let the campfire burn down to ashes. Pour water on the fire to drown all embers, not just the red ones ensuring there is no heat remaining. Once this is done, stir everything in the pit with a shovel.  There should be no evidence of a fire when you leave, other than in an authorized fire pit”

The Love it Like You Live Here campaign, introduced by Perth & Kinross Council will run this year, providing engagement and education with visitors on how to best preserve the natural beauty of the area. 

SFRS Perth and Kinross Group Commander Ewan Baird added:

“Perthshire has some of the most spectacular scenery in Scotland which attracts many visitors to the area. Due to COVID restrictions we are expecting to see numbers of visitors increase. 

“These challenges we face as a rescue service are avoidable if visitors pre-plan, take proper precautions and act responsibly. 

“Our waterways and lochs present a huge attraction, however mixed with alcohol and anti-social behaviour can, and has, led to devastating consequences.

“To work more effectively, this year we will be harnessing the capacity of our retained and volunteer station staff on a larger scale to tackle these issues which are literally on their doorstep.”

Image Courtesy of Perth and Kinross Council

As well as building a new car parking area at Loch Clunie through generous donations from Breedon Aggregates, ‘Dig It Kits’ are also being provided to address the issue of human waste at Loch Tummel and Loch Rannoch.

The kits will include a metal trowel and paper bags to be distributed to visitors to combat the problem.

Chief Inspector Graham Binnie, Police Scotland, said: 

“We are going to see increased traffic on our roads and if you are visiting beauty spots then I would urge you to please do so safely and respectfully – leaving no trace of your visit. 

“Please also park responsibly to allow emergency access.

“Our approach throughout the pandemic has been to engage with the public, explain the legislation and guidance and encourage compliance, but we will not hesitate to continue to use our enforcement powers as a last resort. “
 
Perth and Kinross Council are also investing £250,000 to fund seven Visitor Ranger posts over the summer months as we once again welcome visitors to Highland Perthshire.

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