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Scots urged to follow access rules after litter problems

By John Davidson

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Scots are being urged to find quiet places to enjoy the outdoors responsibly. Picture: Lorne Gill/SNH
Scots are being urged to find quiet places to enjoy the outdoors responsibly. Picture: Lorne Gill/SNH

People are being reminded to follow the rules of the countryside when out and about this summer in a new campaign.

With more Scots expected to holiday at home this year and take advantage of the great outdoors, Scottish Natural Heritage is asking them to follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.

A new survey conducted during lockdown in May on behalf of the organisation shows that compliance with the Scottish Government restrictions has been good with nearly 95 per cent of the population reporting that they only visited the outdoors in their local area.

As travel restrictions are lifted, SNH said it was great to see that more people are taking advantage of Scotland’s outdoors as parks, nature reserves and trails become more widely accessible again. But it warned that with this comes the very practical challenges of reopening the places we like to visit and encouraging behaviours needed to protect public health and the environment.

The Scottish Outdoor Access Code website has been updated to take account of the impact of coronavirus restrictions. Its latest advice includes reminders to:

  • Plan ahead and avoid busy places.
  • Follow physical distancing and remember that people might be shielding.
  • Be kind to nature and each other and respectful of local communities.
  • Keep your dog under control, especially on farmland – and to release your dog if threatened by cattle.
  • Don’t let your cigarette or barbecue start a wild fire – take extra care when it’s warm and dry.
  • Take all of your litter away with you.

Since restrictions began to ease, there have been increasing reports of antisocial behaviour caused by people at Scotland’s nature reserves and national parks, with ugly images of the mess some have left appearing across social media, which Scottish Natural Heritage and others have been quick to condemn.

Francesca Osowska, SNH chief executive, said: “We very much want this love affair with Scotland’s great outdoors and nature to continue. But let’s not spoil it for others. We need be kind to nature and respectful to each other by clearing up after ourselves and taking all of our litter home with us.

“The scenes of abandoned campsites, burned out trees, human waste, as well as litter, are totally unacceptable and a blight on Scotland’s reputation.”

The Scottish Outdoor Access Code has been updated with advice regarding coronavirus.
The Scottish Outdoor Access Code has been updated with advice regarding coronavirus.

Around half of the people surveyed said that they expect to take more visits to the outdoors after lockdown than before the crisis. It is also expected that many will replace cancelled trips abroad with holidays in Scotland this year.

SNH says that the advice from the Scottish Government if you arrive somewhere to find it busier than expected, is to have a back-up plan and find somewhere quieter and safer to visit.

All of the latest Covid-19 guidance can be found on the Scottish Outdoor Access Code website, which includes information about our rights and responsibilities when outdoors, as well as specific guides for a range of activities, from air and water sports, to hill walking and wild camping.

Ms Osowska added: “If we all follow Scottish Government advice and the Scottish Outdoor Access Code, we will be doing our bit to ensure that Scotland’s outdoors remains beautiful and that Covid-19 restrictions can continue to be relaxed.”

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