Lochaber is on fire!

In summer 2021 I was employed as one of Highland Council's Access Rangers to meet and advise the public on matters regarding the Land Reform legislation and responsible use of the countryside. This kind of work had been foreshadowed by the work of our two National Parks and by Applecross Estate and one or two other places in 2020, as a response to the sudden surge of visitors following the end of the first lockdown in July. It is significant that the NPs were responsive to this requirement and could put something in place. Highland Council (and all the others) were playing catch-up all season, and are having a much more organised time in 2022 (when I have chosen not to be involved). The upshot of 2021's season is that LOCHABER IS ON FIRE, and I'm amazed no-one has yet proposed that this be addressed by National Government through the funding , attention and personnel that NP development will bring. If you doubt the problem, Google Camping in Glen Etive, Residents fears in Arisaig and Morar and the Burger Queen Lay-by as three examples of chronic over-use, under-management and community disruption., among thousands of others. The Rangers in Lochaber (not my area) did a huge job of talking to people, explaining what was good practice and intervening with fires, toilet dumping, breaking down vegetation, inconsiderate parking, littering and all the rest. They were heroes. Many of the people who rocked up had been disappointed their Ibiza holidays were not possible, but expected the same level of serviced facility by Scottish loch-sides they received beside Spanish pool-sides (for which they paid). There are arguably problems with NC500, and on Skye too, but everywhere pales into insignificance compared to the war being waged on Lochaber's beautiful waysides. Lochaber has been on the list of possible National Parks since the 1950s, and community representatives have been known to oppose the possibility of designation. Lochaber has some good local initiatives caring for small parts of the area (Nevis Landscape Initiative) and some enlightened landowners (NTS, JMT) but needs far more of our support. National Park designation would not increase visitor pressure here as it has not done so anywhere else in Scotland. The increase happened before designation. It provided a framework for addressing the problems locally, and that is what is needed in Lochaber.

Why the contribution is important

National Park designation is not considered very often, and this opportunity should be used carefully to advance the aims set out in the original post. The problems to be addressed in Lochaber require a degree of national support, urgency and importance, and to be managed locally and in the national interest.

by NicBullivant on May 31, 2022 at 11:56AM

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Average rating: 3.4
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Comments

  • Posted by glasach June 05, 2022 at 17:19

    Hoping that NP status would give more powers to rangers etc to enforce responsible tourism, and could divert crowds away from particular hotspots.
  • Posted by croftercowrie June 05, 2022 at 22:41

    I think these comments reinforce my feeling that Highland Council is now so strapped for cash that it's interested only in Inverness. We're four miles away from North Coast 500 and we know fine well the pressures the area is under, including H.C. closing public lavatories along the route. I believe that IF an NP is the best way forward (not convinced), then local engagement is of the utmost importance, which, I believe, can only truly be achieved if Highland Council is split up -- it's a third the landmass of Scotland, for goodness sake... and it's beginning to feel as if it really doesn't care a toss about what's happening here on the west coast all but 90 miles away.
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