AN INITIATIVE to tackle chronic litter problems around Loch Lomond has been hailed a success with 15 tonnes of rubbish collected.

The pilot litter bin scheme in laybys beside a stretch of the A82 between Arden and Tarbet was introduced by conservation charity Friends of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs over the summer months.

Some 4,000 bags of litter were collected overall with 116,400 litres recycled.

The litter initiative was part of the larger £90,000 Two Lochs Visitor Management Project, led by the friends group with considerable volunteer input.

Funding was provided by NatureScot’s Green Recovery Fund and the Hannah Stirling Lock Lomond Trust with some additional sponsorship from waste recycling company ENVA.

The project also included the provision of temporary toilets at the busy Duck Bay and Arrochar visitor hotspots.

Following the success of the pilot scheme, funds were allocated to extend the litter bin initiative over the colder months while longer term plans are developed for an innovative year-round ‘Adopt a Bonnie Banks Bin’ scheme with support from potential private and public sector partners.

John Urquhart, vice chair of Friends of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, said: ’’There is a substantial body of evidence from our regular monitoring activity that, despite the considerable volumes of traffic and pressure on the A82 along West Loch Lomondside, not only were the laybys mostly clear of litter, but so also were the road verges between the laybys.

“This is also reflected in the very positive feedback we have received from appreciative residents, businesses and visitors.

“The pilot project has proved that if you provide bins and keep a place litter free, most people will treat the area with more respect and will respond to this and with a substantial drop in incidents of thoughtless littering.’’

An evaluation report has been prepared for the pilot with outline proposals for a blended funding solution to continue and possibly expand the existing scheme.

A series of other practical recommendations are made in the report including the urgent need to prepare and adopt a coordinated A82 litter action plan involving various agencies and other stakeholders.

MSP Jackie Baillie said: “The friends have delivered a very practical litter initiative which has made a real difference.

“The findings of the report, the positive feedback received locally and the evidence on the ground has clearly demonstrated that the provision of litter bins in lochside laybys, that are regularly emptied, are a very effective way of helping to manage and control litter in areas where there are high levels of visitor pressure.’’

She added: "It is encouraging some local businesses are willing to step in and help fund the roll out of an Adopt a Bonnie Banks Bin scheme next year.

“However, it is important that public agencies also contribute funds to ensure a truly sustainable scheme is in place and I will be asking them to help as it is essential further steps are taken to continue improving litter situation along the A82 on Loch Lomondside and it should not be left to a local charity to step in to do this on an ongoing basis.’’