Police urge visitors to show respect

David Grieve (left) and Joe Gillies with the piles of rubbish cleared off the island. Photograph: Iain Ferguson, alba.photos.

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Police have reassured Glenfinnan residents they are working to minimise the impact of dirty camping in the area following a particularly extreme case of anti-social behaviour the weekend prior to lockdown restrictions being eased.

Members of the small community were concerned when eight people arrived in two vehicles on the weekend of April 16-18 before rowing out and setting up camp on a small island off the shore of Loch Shiel.

The incident was reported to the Police Scotland 101 number on Tuesday April 20 after  the mess the campers had left behind was discovered. Burnt tents, clothing and empty food and drink packaging were strewn across the area which is classed as a NatureScot Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Resident Colin Morley provided the police helpline with the car registration numbers of the campers but heard nothing back.

However, when the Lochaber Times contacted Police Scotland we received the following reply: ‘Suitable advice was provided. Police Scotland reminds everyone to act in a safe and respectful manner when visiting beauty spots, leaving no trace of your visit.’

Mr Morley was less than happy with the response.

‘I would like to know what follow up happened to the two vehicles of the people who left the rubbish on the island. Details were given and these scumbags need prosecuting,’ he said.

‘As for ‘suitable advice was provided’, what advice and to whom? It seems to be a stock answer Police Scotland dribble out. I’m really angry that if they have done nothing and this is the only response then nothing will change.’

However, a further request for comment from a local officer regarding the matter was more encouraging.

Inspector Nick Hough, from Fort William Police Station, said: ‘Following a report of littering and anti-social camping in the Glenfinnan area, I’d like to remind all visitors to act in a respectful manner and leave no trace when visiting Lochaber.

‘This type of behaviour from visitors is particularly disappointing as regulations ease and we continue to move towards a more normal way of life.

‘Our officers are working closely with our partners in the Highland Council, National Trust and other key community stakeholders to engage with all visitors to the area. In particular, plans are being put into place to proactively educate visitors to Glenfinnan this summer, to minimise the impacts of inappropriate wild camping.

‘We hope community groups will support these plans and assist our efforts to minimise any anti-social behaviour or damage to the area.’

Members of Glenfinnan Community Council have since organised a clean up crew and all the rubbish and equipment has been collected and bagged and taken by boat back to Glenfinnan. Highland Council Refuse Department was contacted and a special uplift was arranged.

‘We do not want to spoil visitors’ enjoyment of the area but we expect them to leave the beautiful Highland scenery as they find it and take their rubbish home with them,’ said community council secretary Pat Grieve.

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