MSP concerned over ‘irresponsible’ wild camping

Highlands and Islands MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston has raised concerns over the impact of “irresponsible” wild camping.

Mr Halcro Johnston brought up the issue at Holyrood on Thursday.

As Covid-19 restrictions were eased, said Mr Halcro Johnston, increasing numbers of people were travelling to communities where suitable facilities were not available.

Some campers were also failing to ensure waste was properly disposed of, he added.

Communities were seeing a surge in off-road camping, according to the Conservative MSP, littering and the possibility of more serious public health risks such as water courses being contaminated.

Mr Halcro Johnston said: “People from across Scotland – and from wider afield – visit to enjoy the breath-taking and unspoilt scenery, and the attraction of this has only increased as lockdown restrictions have eased and folk are able to get out and about again.

 “However, the downside is that many of our glens, islands and other remote communities simply don’t possess the capacity to withstand the impact of large numbers of people, particularly if they are parking up along single-track roads and camping by streams and lochs.”

He added: “Responsible low-intensity wild camping in remote areas is one thing. But large unofficial camping along roadsides, in remote areas or, in some cases, on private property is another thing entirely.

 “Local communities are becoming increasingly concerned with the perceived lack of control and management of this issue – and what these communities want to see is more action from the Scottish government, local councils and Police Scotland.”

Responding on behalf of the Scottish government Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said Mr Halcro Johnston raised a “very valid point”.

Mr Yousaf said it was welcome that people were holidaying and camping in Scotland but, “we want them to act responsibly” and that the onus was on individuals to do so. The issue had been raised with Police Scotland and Mr Yousaf said he would “reengage with Police Scotland and local authorities”.


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