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Loch Lomond Bylaws - a backwards blow to Land Reform

LIKE many, many others I'm extremely disappointed by the SNP Government's approval of further bylaws in the Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park.

I'm of the firm belief that the Park, and the Government, have taken the easy option of creating yet more legislation to combat antisocial behaviour that can be met by existing legislation, e.g. laws regarding violence, litter, vandalism, misuse of alcohol.

The new bylaws will criminalise the innocent, confuse visitors and drive the real culprits into other areas.

I'm also hugely disappointed and concerned that the Minister has chosen to ignore the allegations that have been made that this National Park Board is not fit for purpose.

It is very clear to me that the percieved success of the original bylaws on East Loch Lomonside was not because of bylaws but because of the success of the police Operation Ironworks. The success of that police operation has been swept under the carpet by the Park Board as they claim their success for the original bylaws.

I've spent time in the Trossachs and have spoken to a great number of people who regularly camp on the lochsides. When asked what they will do if the new bylaws are approved they said, to a man, they will move elsewhere, even outside the Park. In other words the problem will be displaced and will continue in other areas.

This is a sad day for those who campaigned for decades to achieve the access provisions of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003, legislation that has been extremely successful and the envy of the world. In making that legislation Scotland has been seen as a progressive country.

Today's decision by Dr Aileen McLeod, the Environment Minister, sends out the opposite signal. Our much lauded access arrangements are being eroded - it's a backwards step and another blow for progressive Land Reform in Scotland."

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