Angus dirty camping clampdown stepped up at Backwater

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Angus fire chiefs say they will step up the campaign to educate so-called dirty campers who regularly spoil local beauty spots.

It follows a plea to make the clampdown a year-round effort rather than waiting for the mercury to rise.

Backwater Reservoir and Lintrathen Loch became two of Tayside’s dirty disaster zones during lockdown.

The beauty spots north of Kirriemuir suffered badly as groups pitched up on their shores.

Backwater reservoir
Backwater Reservoir has become a hotspot for wild camping and the issues it can bring.

Fires and rubbish

There were repeated incidents of fires being set.

And unwanted guests left a trail of destruction and detritus, including abandoned tyres, tents and human waste.

It led to Scottish Fire and Rescue Service taking the lead in an awareness-raising event at Backwater.

Police Scotland and Tayside Mountain Rescue teams, Scottish Water, Kirriemuir Landward West Community Council and Angus, Perth and Kinross and Dundee City education departments joined the initiative.

They spoke to walkers, mountain bikers and paddleboarders about water safety and the anti-social impact of irresponsible wild camping.

‘Boots on the ground’ approach

Its success prompted Kirriemuir councillor Julie Bell to suggest the event becomes more frequent.

“The risks are becoming less seasonal, it’s more of an all-year-round thing,” she said.

“It’s a big concern in the community and it needs the feet on the ground approach, not just on water safety but the wild fires getting out of hand.

Julie Bell
Kirriemuir and Dean SNP councillor Julie Bell.

SFRS Angus area commander Scott Gibson told Angus scrutiny committee councillors the Backwater event was a valuable exercise.

“It has been very well received,” he said.

“We know how much that [anti-social behaviour] affects the local communities and the visitors there.

“It’s something we would have planned year-on-year leading up to the better weather anyway.

“But if it’s something that would be beneficial twice a year then it is something we could ask the teams to do.

“It’s quite simple to put it in place.”

Angus issues have not been restricted to the glens.

Lunan Bay experienced a spate of incidents, leading to Lunan Bay Communities Partnership securing funding for Scotland’s first community-led ranger service.

And Highland Perthshire communities live in fear of what will happen in their midst when the weather improves.

Areas such as Rannoch have been a magnet for campers who damage the environment and don’t clean up.

Cemetery camping clampdown

The Angus pledge comes as the Western Isles prepare to tackle the increasing problem of folk camping in its cemeteries.

Lewis and North Uist both saw repeated incidents of people pitching up in local graveyards last summer.

The Press and Journal reports Western Isles councillors are being asked to bring in a ban to prevent camping in cemeteries or people stopping in their motorhomes overnight in kirkyard car parks.

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[Angus dirty camping clampdown stepped up at Backwater]

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