MORE than 20 people have been charged in connection with irresponsible camping and environmental damage at campsites in Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park.

A tree was set alight and litter, broken glass and rubbish was strewn across campsites the first weekend after travel restrictions were lifted.

Large items of camping equipment such as chairs and sleeping bags were amongst the abandoned messes, with 19 bags of litter at one site and ten at another collected by park staff.

At a third site, a tree was so badly damaged by fire it may need to be felled.

Campers ignored government guidance asking people not to go camping until July 15.

The 21 individuals have now been charged under the Camping Management Byelaws 2017, which can result in a fine of up to £500.

Police Scotland Chief Inspector Gill Marshall said: "Between Friday, July 3 and Sunday, July 5, a total of 21 people were charged with breaches of the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park Camping Management Byelaws.

"These offences related to the setting up of unofficial camps, setting fires, and causing damage to the environment, including fire damage to trees which occurred across South Loch Earn, Loch Venacher and the Loch Ard area. There were also unacceptable levels of littering.”

Gordon Watson, Chief Executive of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park condemned the thoughtless actions.

He said: “It’s devastating to see the images of the of litter and damage caused by people camping over the weekend.

“Not only is this irresponsible behaviour and environmental damage a blatant breach of the byelaws, it is also happening at a time when the national guidance is that people shouldn’t be going camping at all.

“While I can understand people’s desire to get out and enjoy the outdoors after such a long time being in lockdown, I cannot understand why anyone would think it’s ok to destroy the place they’ve visited in this way.

“We cannot replace nature easily, or at the speed we are seeing it destroyed.”

The provisional date for reopening of national park campsites and permit areas is July 17 subject to the Scottish Government confirming their proposed date for all tourism accommodation reopening from July 15.