AROUND 4,000 bags of rubbish are estimated to have been collected during a pilot scheme to cut down on litter along Loch Lomondside roads.

The summer project was launched by conservation charity the Friends of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs and saw 20 large waste bins installed in laybys beside the busy 13-mile stretch of the A82 between Arden and Tarbet.

Organisers say the initiative has proved to be a great success, with 15 tonnes of litter collected, 97 per cent of which is being recycled instead of strewn along road verges.

The scheme will now be extended over the winter 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 the Friends, 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.

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“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.’’

The litter initiative was part of a larger £90,000 Two Lochs Visitor Management Project, led by the Friends with considerable volunteer input, that also included providing temporary toilets at the busy Duck Bay and Arrochar visitor hotspots as well as introducing seasonal village visitor wardens.

Helensburgh and Lomond’s 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. I will be asking them to help as it is essential further steps are taken to continue improving the 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.’’