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'Plan ahead' plea to visitors as Ross-shire MSP 'inundated' with concerns from frustrated constituents


By Hector MacKenzie

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Gail Rossi MSP is flagging her concerns with Fergus Ewing, whose brief includes tourism.
Gail Rossi MSP is flagging her concerns with Fergus Ewing, whose brief includes tourism.

IRRESPONSIBLE visitors parking up on farmland, by the roadside and on occasion in people's driveways on visits to Ross-shire have prompted calls for action.

Ross-shire MSP Gail Ross says she has been "inundated with messages from constituents who are becoming increasingly frustrated with what they feel is a complete disregard for their communities and environment" from visitors and some tourism websites.

She has written to SNP colleague Fergus Ewing, the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Tourism, urging him to address the concerns of many people in the north "who are becoming increasingly concerned at the impact that irresponsible tourists are having" on communities in her Caithness, Sutherland and Ross constituency.

"Whilst I understand the need for people staying and taking holidays in Scotland and this should be encouraged, there needs to be some mechanism to ensure people are being responsible in our countryside. Accounts of fires, litter, including nappies and human waste are disgusting and communities shouldn’t have to put up with it."

She said: "There are places being promoted that will never be suitable for overnight stays, including farmland and common grazings.

“There is real concern that the NC500 route in particular is being heavily promoted and advertised to campervan and caravan users without any regard to the lack of infrastructure available on the route at present or the impact that those who camp irresponsibly is having on the environment and the communities.

“A warm Highland welcome will always be extended to visitors in the Highlands, however, there are several places now where communities are overwhelmed with rubbish, waste and damage from fires. I feel action must be taken soon to stop resentment growing and protect our precious and beautiful places.

“I would appeal to anyone who is considering visiting our area to plan ahead carefully and ensure that they have access to the facilities that they need to dispose of waste and camp responsibly. I also appeal to the government to take this issue seriously and look I forward to the next meeting of the NC500 working group discussing this issue.”

Her letter states: "Whilst I understand the need for people staying and taking holidays in Scotland and this should be encouraged, there needs to be some mechanism to ensure people are being responsible in our countryside. Accounts of fires, litter, including nappies and human waste are disgusting and communities shouldn’t have to put up with it.

There was a fear that tourists would not be welcome back in terms of bringing the virus with them but I fear now that this will pale into insignificance if we don’t manage the people who are disrespecting our local area. There needs to be some kind of joint action taken soon before this gets out of hand and our communities are forever disillusioned with a sector that has become essential for many people’s survival."

Related: Applecross 'sad day' over visitor mess

Visitors urged to behave by police


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