Loch Ness side residents plea: 'Stop leaving rubbish on our beautiful beach'
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A community has reached the end of its tether with revellers leaving rubbish on a popular beach.
Residents in Dores, near Inverness, say the area is being treated irresponsibly by local people, as well as tourists ,and they are now asking for a ranger to help stamp out littering and anti-social behaviour on Loch Ness side.
Dores beach is only a few miles from Inverness, and locals are said to have been flocking to the area during travel restrictions, and since the numbers on outdoor gatherings were eased.
Over the last few weeks, residents in Dores say the job of tidying up after people has become a twice daily occurrence.
Fiona Cairns, of Dores-based Ness Gifts, and a member of the South Loch Ness Tourist Group, said: "A few locals regularly pick up rubbish, and they now just do it as a matter of course.
"Many regulars to the area have now given up coming here as it is just so messy, and they have fears their dogs might cut their paws on broken glass.
"Since people have been able to gather the beach they have been lighting fires and drinking alcohol – leaving behind the fire and discarding glass bottles, often smashing them. People are also using the area as a toilet and leaving behind toilet roll and even tampons. It is quite disgusting.
"The message is simple - if you are coming to the beach, or dropping teenagers off at the beach make sure you have a black bag to tidy up."
Ms Cairns said she did not want to tar everyone with the same brush, as the majority of visitors of all ages to the beach and loch are considerate.
She continued: "What we really need is a ranger, but of the 10 rangers jobs advertised by Highland Council not one of them was for the Loch Ness area. Obviously that needs to be reconsidered. I know it is something the Visit Inverness Loch Ness group have been considering, and there is no doubt that while the volunteer effort is very good - we need a permanent solution."
Morgan Cowley, a Dores resident and member of the Inverness Common Weal policy group, said: "I feel a bit sorry for Dores, it is so close to the city, easy to get to and people come down here – but it is a bit abused, not only with the mess of the beach, but with people parking inappropriately around the village. Some days we can't get in or out our own driveway. People seem to think it is ok to park anywhere and not consider those people who live here."
Michael Golding chief executive of Visit Inverness Loch Ness, said: “We absolutely understand the pressures caused by irresponsible activity along the south side of Loch Ness.
"It is important to recognise that so far this year, due to the lockdown guidelines, only local people have been permitted to travel around our local authority.
"The messaging from VisitScotland about responsible tourism, which is supported by Visit Inverness Loch Ness, must also reach local people to help reduce the pressure.
"In addition, Visit Inverness Loch Ness is actively exploring various avenues to source funding to support a safe and responsible return of visitors that are vital to our communities and their recovery.”
Chairman of Highland Council's tourism committee, Cllr Gordon Adam said: “Welcoming visitors back to the Highlands is a positive sign that the road to recovery can finally commence.
"Tourism is a vital contributor to our economy and provides employment across Highland. However, we are all acutely aware of the pressures on our communities, infrastructure, transport network and landscape.
"We all play an important part in encouraging responsible visitor behaviour. The Highlands are visited for their beauty and warm Highland welcome, but we urge people to be mindful of Covid–19 regulations and to keep the place beautiful for others to enjoy and to protect the fragile environment.”
A spokeswoman for Highland Council said: "The council has agreed funding for 10 of these posts and is awaiting confirmation of Better Places 2 funding through NatureScot for a further seven posts. These extra posts are in co-operation with local organisations – Skye Connect, Wester Ross Biosphere, Applecross Trust & Visit Inverness Loch Ness."