Frustrated Highland residents say they are sick of tidying up after so-called wild campers – and have called for the council and government to intervene.
People living in some of the country’s most scenic spots say wild camping is now often interpreted as parking up in lay-bys, staying there overnight despite notices to the contrary, and leaving behind a trail of litter.
Existing guidelines are being ignored, they say, even if the campers are aware of them.
The residents were responding to the possibility of extending camping management bye-laws further afield than Loch Lomondside and The Trossachs national park.
Tourism minister Fiona Hyslop has rejected the idea, saying local authorities have a statutory duty to uphold access rights in their area, and suggested that concerned constituents should address their concerns to local access chiefs.
She said: “It is also for the local authority to deal with access issues and develop any proposals for byelaws.”
Highland MSP Kate Forbes said: “Bye-laws were introduced on Loch Lomond-side but there is a risk that similar action would just move the problem rather than deal with it.”
Arisaig Community Council member, Susan Carstairs said: “We’ve been involved with getting additional toilets and camper van waste disposal in Mallaig through bidding into the Scottish Government’s rural tourism infrastructure fund, but it shouldn’t be a competition, that’s a ludicrous way of deploying resources.
“I think it’s crazy that community volunteers are being asked to solve these problems, we’re not the right people to do it in an efficient way, especially as councils have whole departments dedicated to the issues.”
Several west coast residents also spoke to the P&J, but refused to be named for fear of upsetting local businesses which benefit from tourism.
One said: “Personally I clean up camp fire pits, have made my own signs and put them around beaches.
“It beggars belief that people think it’s OK to behave like this and the council think it’s OK to let them.”
Another said: “People are not following guidelines, no-one is policing it and no-one is taking responsibility.
“Something needs to be done to regulate wild camping because no one understands what it is any more.”
A Highland Council spokeswoman said: “Ultimately landowners are responsible for waste and fly-tipping on their land as a result of wild-camping.
“The council can issue fines from £200 to £20,000 or the offender can receive six months in prison or up to five years if hazardous waste is dumped.”