30 April 2021

Enjoy the countryside and coastline safely and keep Aberdeenshire beautiful

Although the weather forecast is not yet promising blazing sunshine and high temperatures for the week ahead, it is still expected that more people will be out and about enjoying the Aberdeenshire countryside and coastline as lockdown continues to ease.

While recent weekends didn’t bring the numbers initially anticipated, many tourist hotspots such as Glen Tanar and Muir of Dinnet at Burn o’ Vat saw their car-parks quickly reach maximum capacity which prompted visitors to head off on their Plan B adventure.

However, while most people enjoyed their days out and left no trace, there were again reports of significant littering at many locations and evidence of smouldering barbecues and campfires which posed a serious fire risk.

In a bid to combat some of these issues, Aberdeenshire Council has introduced a range of new measures including:

• Increased bin provision and emptying regimes at several hotspots
• Road verge markers at key locations to deter dangerous and irresponsible parking
• Extended 20mph speed restriction at Cambus o’ May until October 31 to safeguard visitors
• Introduction of variable signs along the A93 to reiterate safety messages

Alan Wood, Director of Infrastructure Services, said: “It was great to see people once again enjoying a bit of fine weather over recent weekends and taking in the wonderful sights Aberdeenshire has to offer. The majority of visitors have treated our countryside and coastline with the respect it deserves for which we thank them, but we must emphasise the message that we must all keep Aberdeenshire beautiful.

“Our services have analysed the recent visits to our tourist attractions and are taking steps to provide additional amenities such as extra bins and emptying as and where appropriate. But we do not have unlimited resources - everyone is responsible for properly disposing of any waste they generate. Quite simply – if a bin is full, take your rubbish home.

“It’s also vitally important that we safeguard our beautiful environment at all times. I was appalled to again be hearing of incidents of campfires and disposable barbecues being discarded. Other areas of the UK have witnessed devastating wildfires which have destroyed massive swathes of moorland and we simply cannot risk that happening here in Aberdeenshire.”

Following the initial reopening of the countryside, Aberdeenshire Ranger Service has also stressed the need to behave responsibly, particular around farmland and estates.

“Ranger coordinator Fiona Banks said: “We have had several land managers contact us to highlight large volumes of people visiting their sites. Whilst responsible visitors are very welcome, they must respect those who live and work in our countryside.

In particular it is important to park responsibly so access tracks to homes are not blocked and large farm machinery can pass.  Visitors must also respect the privacy of those living in the countryside and not enter private gardens.

Lambing is still taking place in some areas and we are now in ground nesting bird season so dogs must be under proper control or on a short lead. Please also remember to take away everything you take in, including dog waste. We have reports of poo bags left in car parks, tied on to trees and fences which is unsightly, unhygienic and simply not responsible”.
Again, Aberdeenshire Council would remind all visitors to observe the following guidance:

Stay local
By exercising near our own communities, we can help reduce the spread of the disease and the pressure on rural communities and emergency services.
Plan ahead
Some hotspots could be busy and facilities such as car parks, shops and toilets may be closed or access reduced, so plan ahead before setting out – including checking the relevant website and be prepared to move to your Plan B site.
Be responsible
Take extra care to follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code, especially on farmland, and abide by the latest guidance, including on hygiene and physical distancing.
Take it easy Support our NHS, emergency services and rescue teams during this challenging time by avoiding riskier outings and always remember the FACTS. Visit www.outdooraccess-scotland.scot