Video footage of NC500 road trippers apparently emptying their campervan’s toilet waste all over a north layby has sparked revulsion and fury in the local community.
A group of young men calling themselves TPD TV filmed themselves on a road trip on the NC500 in October, made a one hour video and put it on their channel on YouTube.
In the video, they make derogatory remarks about Scotland and the Highlands, complaining it’s ‘boring’, unlike the ‘real’ route 66, it has ‘no history’, and it was impossible to get a coffee.
Halfway through, one of the group appears to take the vehicle’s toilet container and pour it all over a layby, believed to be in Caithness.
The front person of the group, Rob Kellas, says to camera that last time they did this was on their trip to the ‘real route 66’, and they were berated by followers who were eating for not giving any warning.
He says: “So here’s your warning” as the shot cuts to one of their number running around the layby emptying the campervan’s toilet cassette as he goes, with another member jumping for cover into the vehicle.
Afterwards the group makes a series of unprintable remarks about what just happened, with Rob Kellas saying: “It smells like the Texas poo saw massacre’.
‘Using the Highlands as a theme park where you can do whatever you please is what makes people most angry’
The video sparked horror on social media groups set up to voice concerns about the NC500, with members describing the young men as filthy and ignorant, and demanding they should be prosecuted.
From NC500 The Land Weeps, Margaret Meek said: “Using the Highlands as a theme park where you can do whatever you please is what makes people most angry.
“‘Doing the NC500’ is the objective.
“So often a trip to the Highlands becomes reduced to a rollicking fun road trip.
“Tourists like these young men are not what the Highlands need.
“I hope there is enough evidence to prosecute. Illegal dumping is a big issue. A few big fines for this sort of behaviour would be a wake-up call.”
‘Disgusted by the behaviour’
Writer and mountaineer Cameron MacNeish said he has reported the incident to the authorities.
He said: ” When I initially saw this video on You Tube I was disgusted by the behaviour of these young men.
“To gleefully pour the waste from their toilet cassette all over a public lay-by was both shocking and disgusting and of course reflects badly on all of us who use a campervan, as I do.
“I’ve reported the matter to the police and to Highland Council environmental health department and I hope these people feel the full weight of the law.
“To act like this during normal times is deplorable but to carry out such a filthy act in the middle of a worldwide pandemic is reprehensible.
“I hope we never see their likes in the Highlands again.”
As the row intensified, the video was removed and the Yorkshire group’s social media pages disappeared.
On Twitter, Rob Kellas said: “We’ve become aware of a video taken out of context from our channel.
“Whilst we understand the concerns, please bear in mind that we are an entertainment channel. Not everything is real. We hope out dedicated viewers continue to enjoy our content.”
He also says: “It is important that through these times we respect each other, and think more carefully about what we say and do online.”
This is irresponsible and disgusting behaviour which certainly doesn’t reflect the behaviour of the thousands of visitors we have each year on the route.”
Highland Council spokesman
The matter has been reported to the NC500, Highland Council, Police Scotland and Sepa.
A council spokesman said: “This is irresponsible and disgusting behaviour which certainly doesn’t reflect the behaviour of the thousands of visitors we have each year on the route.
“We urge visitors to the region to enjoy their stay in our beautiful locations but to ‘leave no trace’.
“Sadly, a minority continue to take no responsibility for their own actions.
“In these cases, officers from the council will work with Police Scotland and Sepa to take appropriate enforcement action.
“This may include using fixed penalty notice powers under fly-tipping legislation which can result in a £200 fine being issued to offenders.”
Chief inspector Jamie Wilson, North Highland area commander said: “Any reports of anti-social behaviour or criminality around the roads of the north Highlands will be investigated on their own merits and appropriate action will be taken where offences are identified.”
North Coast 500 Ltd condemned the behaviour.
Tom Campbell, executive chairman, said: “We strongly condemn any irresponsible or anti-social behaviour conducted by a minority of visitors on the NC500 and would urge people to report such behaviour to Police Scotland and other relevant authorities in the first instance.
“Whether people are travelling in their own vehicle, or hiring one for their visit, we have always actively encouraged visitors to observe our advice for safe driving on country and single-track roads, overnight parking, access rights and waste disposal, which is all available on our website.
“If people are camping, in a campervan or have a caravan, we continue to urge people to support local businesses on the NC500.
“Our advice is that visitors should only stay overnight in designated sites and they should book in advance in order that their holiday is planned ahead. Whether people are travelling by car, bicycle, motorcycle, campervan, motorhome or foot, it is their responsibility to dispose of their waste responsibly.
“We encourage people to respect local communities and not to leave waste for others to find or remove.
“It is their waste, their rubbish and we encourage everyone to take account of that when they visit this wonderful place.
“NC500 continues to work with our industry partners to focus on responsible and sustainable tourism, actively encouraging visitors to spend more time exploring the region by showcasing the wild, rugged and varied landscapes of the North Highlands.
“We urge visitors to slow down, explore away from the beaten track and focus on wellbeing experiences as part of their travels, such as walking, hiking and swimming, whilst being mindful of their environmental impact.”
The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) says it is currently reviewing the information and will be discussing the findings with the relevant authorities.
A spokesman said: “It is a criminal offence to illegally dispose of waste in this manner. “Everyone can help end the selfish, criminal dumping behaviours that blight our communities.”