Patrol project out to tackle wild campers

The project launch gets a thumbs up from all involved.
The project launch gets a thumbs up from all involved.

A six-month trial project to clamp down on anti-social campers around St Mary’s Loch in the Yarrow Valley got under way at the weekend.

A warden service has been introduced after complaints that the behaviour of so-called wild campers had become intolerable.

L-R GORDON HARRISON,MICHELLE BALLANTYNE,CHRIS AMY (WARDEN)GORDON EDGAR and PC CONAL McEWAN

L-R GORDON HARRISON,MICHELLE BALLANTYNE,CHRIS AMY (WARDEN)GORDON EDGAR and PC CONAL McEWAN

The service, to run until the end of September, is being funded by Scottish Borders Council, the Wemyss and March Estate and Ettrick and Yarrow Community Council, using a grant from the Langhope Rig wind farm benefit fund, was launched at Cappercleuch Hall on Friday night.

South Scotland Conservative list MSP Michelle Ballantyne was joined by locals, Police Scotland and councillors in welcoming Chris Amy, 52, to his post.

The self-employed country ranger, of Tushielaw, said: “I hope that the service will help alleviate some of the challenges that some wild campers pose.

“I will be working very closely with local residents and landowners as well as Police Scotland to ensure that those who visit the area respect the needs of others and respect the environment while they are here.”

Gordon Harrison and Michelle Ballantyne look on as Chris Any, centre, signs his contract.

Gordon Harrison and Michelle Ballantyne look on as Chris Any, centre, signs his contract.

His patch includes the shores of St Mary’s Loch, Loch of the Lowes, Megget Reservoir and around the Glen Café and will be covered most Friday and Saturday evenings.

Selkirkshire councillor Gordon Edgar said that the majority of visitors do behave responsibly but added: “There have been some who have left litter behind, destroyed and burned local trees and become noisy and aggressive.

“Scottish Borders Council has contributed funding to the project to help the local community feel safer and so that this unique tourism destination is looked after.

“We will also be helping to uplift litter in the area.”

Thetrial is being managed and monitored by community councillors Isabel Brown and Clive Whittingham.

PC Conal McEwan, the local community beat officer, said: “We look forward to developing a close working relationship with Mr Amy.

“Chris will be able to monitor the situation on the ground and contact Police Scotland if there are any problems with people causing trouble or breaking the law.”

Community council chairman Gordon Harrison added: “The warden service will operate along the shores of St Mary’s Loch, the Loch of the Lowes, Megget Reservoir and the Green, opposite the Glen Café.

“Chris will mainly work on Friday and Saturday evenings throughout the spring and summer, but his hours can be used flexibly during school and public holidays.”