JETSKIS should be banned from Loch Lomond if byelaws can’t keep irresponsible use of the craft under control.

That’s the plea issued by land owners and community representatives in Luss amid warnings of “unmanaged and potentially lethal chaos” that could lead to lives being lost.

The chairman of Luss and Arden Community Council says that the reckless attitude of “a significant minority of jetski owners” is putting the lives of other loch users at risk – and that without tougher byelaws to govern their use, a blanket ban may be the only option.

David Pretswell’s views were echoed by the chief executive of local land owner, Luss Estates, and by the area’s constituency MSP, Jackie Baillie.

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Some jetski owners have criticised the call as too draconian – but the Luss groups say the situation has already become “untenable”.

Mr Pretswell, Ms Baillie and Luss Estates boss Simon Miller spoke out ahead of a formal consultation on a review of the loch’s byelaws by the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Authority.

They all say that the park authority’s proposed changes to the byelaws don’t go far enough to tackle irresponsible jetski use.

The formal consultation is due to be launched in July after informal talks between National Park officials and community groups over recent weeks.

Luss Estates says there are four “key omissions” from the park authority’s proposed byelaw review:

• There is no requirement to have in place insurance for owners of motorised craft, including jetskis.

• No reference is made to restricting jetski numbers, which have increased at an extreme rate in the last few years.

• The proposed introduction of a byelaw to make it illegal to launch a motorised craft without the landowner’s permission has been dropped – this is a vital control method across the Park and would be in line with the existing ‘Right to Roam’ legislation.

• No reference is made to how enforcement will be funded. The National Park are struggling to adequately enforce the current byelaws, therefore increasing legislation will not be effective unless there is funding in place for enforcement.

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Mr Pretswell said: “Irresponsible use of jetskis on Loch Lomond in areas used by open-water swimmers, kayakers and paddleboarders has now reached such a point that it now presents a real threat to life, and unfortunately we fear that the inevitable fatality could happen at any time.

“We now understand that neither Police Scotland nor the National Park Authority have the resources nor the legal powers to manage and control jetskis adequately.

“They are already unable to enforce the existing byelaws, they cannot restrict jetski numbers, cannot insist on insurance, nor check seaworthiness, nor impose any skills or training requirements on the drivers.

“In effect they have lost control of the water bodies in the Park - the very thing that makes the area so beautiful and which the National Park was set up to safeguard.

“The situation on Loch Lomond is one of unmanaged and potentially lethal chaos. Every community around the loch, and many visitors, have seen how appalling the behaviour of a significant minority of jetski owners has been over the past two years - it simply cannot be allowed to continue and requires urgent intervention.”

Simon Miller, Luss Estates’ chief executive, said: “The increased use of Loch Lomond across conflicting uses means this byelaw review is overdue and essential for public safety.

“However, it is our view that unless the use of jetskis can be effectively legislated to ensure public safety, then an overall ban must urgently be considered.

“We are concerned that the current proposals would not even make it a violation for a jetski to be driven on the loch by an anonymous, inexperienced and uninsured 14-year-old who could have launched across ground without obtaining access permission. This is clearly not in the best interests of the communities and visitors to Loch Lomond, let alone the protected natural environment.”

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Ms Baillie, who told a debate on national parks in the Scottish Parliament last week that she was “increasingly of the view that [jetskis] should no longer be allowed at all” on the loch, said: “The situation on Loch Lomond has become untenable for residents and visitors alike and the anti-social behaviour of some jetski owners could threaten tourism locally, which would be devastating for the community.

“While I appreciate that there are jetski users who are responsible, the area has been adversely affected by those causing antisocial behaviour which is endangering other loch users and causing nuisance for loch side communities.

“We cannot wait to act while people are at risk of being injured. Unless there is robust and enforceable legislation, I support a ban on jetskis on Loch Lomond which is by far the easiest thing to enforce and the most sensible way to protect the area, loch users and residents.”

A spokesperson for the Loch Lomond Boats and Jetskis Facebook group told the Advertiser’s sister title, The Herald, this week that a call for a blanket ban on jetskis on the loch was a “wholly disproportionate response” and labelled Ms Baillie’s comments “completely ill-informed”.

Kenny Auld, head of visitor services at the National Park Authority, said: “The National Park’s lochs are enjoyed by a wide range of people and everyone - whether paddling, swimming, on a boat or jetski – should have safety in the forefront of their mind and show respect for others in or on the water.

"National Park rangers carry out daily patrols on land and water, speaking to visitors to provide advice and enforcing byelaws on Loch Lomond, supported by Police Scotland.

“The National Park Authority has been closely monitoring recent trends and behaviours on the loch and we are considering what might be required to respond to these, as part of our review of the Loch Lomond byelaws. Measures to improve safety and reduce conflict are a priority.

“We will be launching a public consultation on the byelaw review later this summer. This will cover a range of issues, including changes potentially affecting motorised craft. We will be seeking the views of local residents, businesses, loch users and interest groups and this follows a series of informal meetings with some of these groups last month.

"The views and contributions from the public consultation will help shape the final proposed byelaws to be presented to Scottish Ministers for consideration and decision.”