LISTEN: John Duff explains PKC’s new approach to visitor management
Following the dirty camping episode from last year, the council is stepping up its management of visitors in Perth and Kinross.
Last year they teamed up with the police and fire service to clamp down on the problem with actions like issuing rural clearway orders to stop people from parking on single track country roads.
Now they’re reinforcing their strategy by introducing a visitor management group who will oversee engaging with campers and introducing other policies to help reduce the problem.
Councillor John Duff explained: “I’m sure as the listeners will remember from last summer, we were inundated with visitors coming to Highland Perthshire.
“We can understand why they want to come and given the beautiful countryside that we have, but we had a lot of problems with litter, with vandalism, damaging trees, parking in the narrow country, roads, blocking lanes, et cetera, et cetera.
“So we formed a visitor management group where we worked with, our community planning partners with the police, with the fire service, with forest land Scotland and with volunteers to try and tackle our visitor management issues.
“Now, since last year, we’ve put a lot what can offer the winter in terms of working with landowners to create additional parking, get some additional bins out, get some additional toilets in place.”
The team are using what they call the ‘4es’ approach, which starts with ‘engage’ which looks to start a conversation with campers about their responsibilities as they enjoy the outdoors.
Next is the second ‘e’ which is to explain the issues of dirty camping and what they can do not to contribute to the issue.
Then the third ‘e’ asks visitors to respect the countryside which is being supported by the vans which tote their slogan, ‘love it like you live here.’
And finally the fourth ‘e’ is enforcement, which means the rangers will step aside to allow the police to enforce breaches, alongside the council’s own parking attendants who will issue fines to offending drivers parking in inappropriate areas.
They’ll be focusing on Loch Tay, Glenlyon, Foss Rd, Loch Rannoch, Loch Tummel, Calvine/Trinafour, Schiehallion as part of the strategy to engage with visitors to respect the area.
Mr Duff thinks that the area is so attractive to visitors because of the iconic beauty boasted by so much of Highland Perthshire, but responsible access outdoors is vital in maintaining that.
He said: “It’s such a beautiful place and I suppose we’re quite central and handy for people coming from either the central belt or from the East coast. And then the it’s easy, quite easy to get to Highland Perthshire. So, I think it’s a combination of being handy and the scenery is beautiful.
“And I live here and I am privileged to see these things every day is as I go about my job. People want to come here because it’s so nice. And we can understand that we want to welcome them to Highland Perthshire but we, just need them to be respectful and responsible while they’re here.”
This approach from the council also comes as part of the emphasis on education to help prevent the problem from happening rather than reacting to the issue.
Fellow Highland Ward councillor Mike Williamson added: “As things stand this problem is not going away and is not unique to Highland Perthshire. To use an ecological term, the carrying capacity of Highland Perthshire to cope with touring campers is under severe strain and requires urgent intervention by all concerned. We need a concerted response that respects all concerned parties rights and interests and above all does not undermine or diminish the precious Outdoor Access Code.
“We need to tackle unacceptable behaviour and address knee jerk responses by landowners which risk breaching the Code and are not in themselves sustainable solutions. Clearly there is a need for improved monitoring and enforcement action, which has the potential to be understood by all parties and is meaningful. But this needs to be supported by better education which highlights the impact that the excessive behaviour is causing. This argues for increased wardening activity and enforcement of the Code by countryside rangers.”
Now the seven new rangers, equipped with a van each, patrolling the area with improved facilities are hoping to make all the difference.
Anyone looking to report dirty camping to the council can get in touch with: firstname.lastname@example.org