NATIONAL PARK: Loch Lomond Bye-laws to be tightened in 2024

By Elaine Brewer

A set of recommended changes to the Loch Lomond Bye-laws has been approved by the Scottish Government and the new bye-laws will come into force on 1st November, 2024.

The bye-laws, which manage safe and responsible use of Loch Lomond, were reviewed by Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park Authority last year and a 12-week public consultation was held on proposed changes.

Improving safety was the key consideration of the bye-law review, particularly in response to changes in recent years as to how people use Loch Lomond for recreation.

Until 1st November 2024, the existing bye-laws (Loch Lomond Bye-laws 2013) will remain in operation.

The growing popularity of open water swimming and paddle sports, coupled with significant increases in bye-law breaches, have resulted in additional measures to protect public safety, reduce irresponsible behaviours and make enforcement more efficient.

The key changes that will come into effect on 1st November, 2024 are:

  • the creation of low-speed activity zones at seven near-to-shore locations
  • the compulsory wearing of personal flotation devices (life jackets or buoyancy aids) for everyone under 16, on all vessels, in certain circumstances, such as when on open decks
  • a provision that the Registered Owner, or owner, of a power-driven vessel under 5hp is guilty of an offence if someone under 16 in sole command or charge of that vessel acts in such a way that they would have committed an offence if they were an adult
  • the introduction of a new Loch Lomond User Registration Scheme, meaning any individual wishing to take command or charge of a registered power-driven vessel must also register their personal details with the National Park Authority in advance.
  • removal of the Permission to Trade byelaw – the scope of this byelaw will now focus on businesses who trade in a manner which constitutes a nuisance.
  • an amended boundary for the existing 11kph speed zone to the south of Inchtavannach, Inchmoan, and Inchcruin islands.

The updated bye-laws will come into force on 1st November 2024 and there will be engagement with visitors and Loch users beforehand to increase awareness and prepare for the changes.

Until 1st November 2024, the existing bye-laws (Loch Lomond Byelaws 2013) will remain in operation.

Kenny Auld, Head of Visitor Services at Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority, said: “Thousands of visitors spend time in, on or by the water of Loch Lomond every year and it is a fantastic resource to have within easy reach of 50% of Scotland’s population.

“These changes to the bye-laws are in response to the changes we have seen on the Loch in recent years, specifically the increase in activities such as paddle-boarding and a marked upturn in the use of personal water craft such as jet skis.

“Alongside these trends, there have been increased concerns about disturbance, antisocial behaviour and safety risks.

“The new Loch Lomond Bye-laws will provide a clear and understandable set of rules for people to follow, as well as an effective deterrent to irresponsible behaviour and a tool for enforcement when necessary.

“While the new bye-laws cannot be legally enforced until 1st November 2024, we will begin transitioning towards them next season. Loch infrastructure will be installed and the systems which will support the implementation of our new Loch User Registration Scheme will be introduced. National Park Rangers will also be communicating regularly with visitors and Loch users about the new bye-laws in an advisory capacity.”

First introduced in 1996, the Loch Lomond Bye-laws form part of a wider combination of measures and approaches to managing and influencing behaviour and activities on the water. They also provide the framework to enable escalation and enforcement when necessary.

The bye-laws are required by law to be reviewed at least every 10 years.  The changes coming into force on 1st November 2024 were developed following a thorough and inclusive review process, involving consultation with local stakeholders, the wider public and legal counsel.

The new set of Loch Lomond Bye-laws can be viewed on the National Park Authority website  by searching for ‘Loch Lomond Bye-laws Review’.

Hard copies will also be available at National Park Headquarters in Balloch, Duncan Mills Memorial Slipway in Balloch and Balmaha Visitor Centre.

  • The public consultation over a 12-week period between July and October 2022 received over 380 responses from organisations and individuals.   There were significant levels of support (75-88%) for most proposed changes.
  • According to research carried out for NatureScot there was a 10% increase nationally in non-powered, water related activities (such as paddle-boarding) between 2019 and 2021.
  • Between 2019 and 2022 there was a 31% increase in registrations of Personal Water Craft such as jet skis on Loch Lomond. Between 2012 and 2022, that increase was 61%.
  • There was a 185% increase in total alleged contraventions of Loch Lomond Byelaws between 2012 and 2022, 53% of which were for speeding.

Pictures by BILL HEANEY

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