Plea to visitors to Highlands to ‘leave only footprints’


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Lochaber has been among parts of the Highlands to experience large numbers of visitors

Thousands of people have been holidaying in the Highlands, but some have been leaving behind rubbish and even human waste.

The problem has been encountered widely across the region.

With a forecast for fine weather at the weekend, there are particular concerns for “hotspots” in Cairngorms and Lochaber.

Local communities, authorities and outdoor organisations have appealed to visitors to “leave only footprints”.

Ahead of the weekend, the Cairngorms National Park Authority has asked people to consider visiting other locations if popular sites are busy.

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Highland councillors say they want tourists to share in the beauty of the region

In Lochaber, Police Scotland said it had received a number of complaints about anti-social behaviour including inconsiderate camping, and parking that had led to roads being obstructed.

Insp Isla Campbell said: “Before travelling to Lochaber have a Plan B for where you will park if your intended destination is not available and consider moving to another area or walking a distance after parking responsibly.

“We do not want to spoil people’s fun and so we urge the public to be responsible and park safely.”

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Ben Thomson said more toilets and frequent bin collections could help

Highlands businesswoman Anne Widdop, who runs the social media campaign Stop Trashing Scotland, said communities and businesses in the region relied on tourism.

But she said the damage done by some posed a threat to the natural environment and tourist trade.

She said: “The area is just getting trashed.

“The machair (coastal wild flower meadows) is getting destroyed.

“They are leaving rubbish, they are leaving campsites full of kit on the beach or just burning it as they leave.”

Highland councillor Ben Thomson said some of the visitors to the area could be targeted with campaigns.

He added: “The second thing would be more toilets, more frequent bin collections, better car parking and more enforcement.”

Meanwhile, Mountaineering Scotland has appealed on social media for people to be “considerate campers” and leave the area in a state as if “they were never there”.

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A sign in Lochaber

Kate Forbes, SNP MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, said the vast majority of visitors were “respectful and caring”.

But she added: “A minority of dirty, uncontrolled campers are spoiling it for everybody else by wrecking the natural environment, leaving waste and litter and creating congestion in a few hotspots.”

She said it would take a “close collaboration” between the Highland Council and the Scottish government to sort out the problem.

Highland councillor Denis Rixson said communities wanted visitors to come and share the region’s “beautiful environment”.

He said: “Please park sensibly and leave nothing but your footprints in the sand.

“After your trip we want you to depart with warm memories and return again in the future”.

BBC News