MEMBERS of the public are being asked for their views on plans to change some of the byelaws covering the use of Loch Lomond.

The Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Authority says its six proposed changes to existing byelaws are an attempt to make the loch a safer and more sustainable place.

A 12-week public consultation on the proposed changes was launched on Wednesday, July 27. Views can be shared until October 19.

The changes include compulsory life jackets for under 16s on all vessels with an open deck; creating areas where powered boats and jet skis cannot be used, or must be used at low speed, in order to promote activities such as swimming and kayaking; and bringing in a registration process for anyone using a powered craft on the loch.

Kenny Auld, head of visitor services at the National Park Authority, said: “Loch Lomond is an iconic and special place, for its value to nature and the environment, for the multiple recreation and wellbeing opportunities it offers, and the economic value it provides for the many businesses and communities around it.

“The byelaws are there to help manage the Loch, balance those many opportunities and to support people to enjoy the water safely and responsibly.

“As the ways in which Loch Lomond is used have changed over time, the byelaws must be reviewed to ensure they continue to 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.

“There have been significant changes in the type and volume of recreation activities enjoyed on the loch in recent years, including an increase in activities such as open water swimming and paddle boarding and a marked upturn in personal watercraft such as jet skis.

“Alongside those trends, there have been increased incidences of disturbance, anti-social behaviour and safety risks, with a 119 per cent increase in byelaw contraventions between 2019-2021, almost half of which were for speeding."

The Loch Lomond Byelaws were introduced in 1996 to help manage recreational activity on the loch, but after discussion with more than 50 groups of local residents, businesses, loch users, emergency services and interest groups it was propsed to make these amendments to the regulations.

Proposed changes

The six key changes to the byelaws being proposed in the consultation are:

  • The creation of zones for only low or non-powered activities (such as swimming, kayaking, paddleboarding, or fishing) in order to improve safety in areas where there is a higher risk of safety issues, conflict and disturbance.
  • The compulsory wearing of personal flotation devices (such as life jackets) for everyone under 16 on all vessels when on open decks to improve safety for young people.
  • The transfer of liability for offences committed by someone under 16 in sole charge of a powered vessel to the registered owner of the vessel when there is no supervising adult.
  • Tthe introduction of a new Loch Lomond User Registration Scheme, in addition to the registration of a vessel, meaning any individual using a motorised vessel must be registered with the Park Authority in advance. This is to make the identification of individuals easier in the event of a byelaw contravention.
  • Simplify processes around businesses operating on the loch by changing the existing Permission to Trade byelaw to focus only on businesses on the Loch that are deemed to be causing nuisance.
  • Amend the boundary of the existing lower speed zone around Inchmoan island to be more easily identifiable for loch users.