Friday 28th August 2020, 1:55pm
We are pleased to see that as result of our raising the issue of rural parking restrictions with Perth and Kinross council (see article below), more information has been made available on the PKC website about why the action was taken and information on the restrictions that have been put in place are now publicly available:
Following our joint press release with Ramblers Scotland on Friday, we have also made contact with an elected member from Highland Perthshire, and offered our support in trying to identify potential solutions in the longer term. We will continue to promote responsible access and parking alongside our Considerate Camping and TakItHame campaigns.
Perth and Kinross Council took action last week by placing parking restrictions on some rural roads. It has been claimed by the Council that inconsiderate parking has forced this measure where narrow roads have been blocked, making it difficult for farm vehicles and emergency services to pass.
There has been a rise recently in the number of visitors to the countryside who wish to enjoy the scenery and the benefits of outdoor recreation, due in a large part to the COVID-19 travel and events restrictions. COVID-19 has also resulted in reduced capacity of public transport and potential for car-sharing, and as a consequence there are more single-occupancy vehicles on the roads.
Rural car parks, if they are open, have in some areas been unable to cope with the number of visitors, with many people having to park their cars on road verges as parking areas are full.
Whilst we understand the challenges these pressures have created, the action taken last week by Perth & Kinross Council to prohibit roadside and verge parking and to apply fines raises concerns for all responsible countryside visitors using the affected roads. While not directly restricting our right of access to the countryside, it does cause major problems for many wishing to do so in accordance with the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.
We have been in contact with PKC officers this week as we understand this action is temporary, but was taken without any consultation with the Local Access Forum. Along with Ramblers Scotland we are calling for the Council to rethink their approach to countryside visitor management.
We have also highlighted that a major problem for visitors is finding out where these parking restrictions apply. The Perth & Kinross Council website gives no clear indication of where the restrictions have been imposed, nor for how long they are in place. Neither can it be found on the Traffic Scotland website. The only indication of this legal action was on a posting on the PKC Facebook page on the 21 of August (see screenshot on right).
Visitors who donít follow Perth & Kinross Council on Facebook would have had no idea of these restrictions and to which roads they apply. The first indication of this may well be a roadside sign when they reach one of the restricted roads. If local car parks are full (if there are any provided), then visitors would be at a loss to know what to do.
We realise that unprecedented numbers of people wishing to enjoy the Scottish hills pose challenges with respect to traffic movement and parking, and we have been consistent in our advice as we have exited lockdown, encouraging everyone who wants to go walking or climbing to be considerate and park their cars so that they donít obstruct roads or gateways.
This blunt prohibition on parking for countryside visitors is in our opinion a failure of Perth and Kinross Council to anticipate increased demand for access to the scenic hills and glens of Perthshire and to effectively manage it. It also sets a precedent that we would not want to see applied elsewhere across Scotland, with the use of these traffic regulations to restrict countryside access particularly in the many places where laybys and car parks are not provided.
The restrictions send out a message from the Council that visitors are not welcome, which is in stark contrast to what the local landowners are doing at Loch Turret, above Comrie, where we hear that farmers are taking turns to open up fields to accommodate the influx of cars, and maintain the roads free of obstruction.
We call for Perth and Kinross Council to review road traffic management on busy rural roads and to provide temporary facilities for visitors and their vehicles; parking, toilets and litter collection. This will ease problems experienced by local communities while ensuring a welcome for visitors to enjoy the best that the Perthshire landscape can offer.
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