Popular parking ban in Midlothian Reservoir as wildlife ‘chased and injured’
Parking in a protected reservoir has been banned for the summer amid reports of hunting and injury to wildlife, and allegations of assaults, public urination and dumping of litter.
Local Gladhouse Reservoir users have been angered after Midlothian Council introduced a six-month parking ban on the road north of the beauty spot.
The reservoir, which is popular with wild swimmers and water sports enthusiasts, was the focus of a Scottish survey into its use in which more than 1,000 people took part.
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But while the utility company plans to create visitor parking at the site and said it would work with the council to introduce parking restrictions once it is open, the local authority has from today prohibits visitors from parking for six months.
The move led to a call for the council to rethink the ban with a mother, who is among a number of wild swimmers who visit the reservoir, saying it was impossible for her and others to continue visiting .
The council said the restriction, which is in place until October, was introduced due to “safety concerns raised by our emergency partners about access in the event of an incident or emergency”.
Midlothian MSP Colin Beattie said anti-social behavior had been a central concern raised by residents.
He told a regular visitor: “I have spoken with colleagues from Midlothian Council and have been made aware of serious concerns from some local residents in the area.
“These include difficulties for garbage trucks to access households, human waste and used contraceptives, damage to trees, urinating in public, hunting and injuring wildlife, lots of litter left behind , including used barbecues and reports of assaults/abusive behavior towards local residents.
“There are also serious concerns that due to the high volume and sometimes inconsiderate visitor parking in the area, access by emergency service vehicles may be severely restricted.”
His views were echoed by other regular users who complained about the decision, with one regular swimmer saying his local councilor said the anti-social behavior of some visitors left officers with no alternative.
He said: “I was told that people were behaving so badly that we didn’t think the area could wait for the car park and that we had to act now. It’s a blow for those of us who use it correctly and respect the area.”
The reservoir is a Ramsar site – a protected wetland due to a population of pink-footed geese. It is also home to large numbers of greylag geese as well as other waterfowl, from tufted ducks to great crested and little grebes.
The new cleared lane limits parking along the U80 Gladhouse road which provides direct access to the reservoir, with people able to park west of the site.
Morag Bootland, who lives in Roslin, goes to the reservoir to swim at least twice a week year-round and takes his family there regularly.
She said incidents of antisocial behavior were “very occasional” and pleaded with the council to reconsider the ban which she said would make it impossible for many regular users to visit.
She said: “I can’t even begin to explain to you how important this is for my mental and physical health. As an unpaid carer it provides respite in the beauty of nature and with an injured foot. , I can exercise.
“I meet other swimmers on every visit who love this place as much as I do. And while I have witnessed very occasional anti-social behavior and irresponsible parking, on the whole people who visit Gladhouse are respectful of this nice place.”
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She added that the new restriction “would effectively make it impossible for anyone to visit the reservoir by car for the next six months.”
She said: “It’s devastating for me and I’m sure it will be for many others. Especially anyone with young children, the elderly and people with disabilities.
“Why on earth is this restriction being put in place before parking? This is a place where people in Midlothian can enjoy nature and the outdoors after two incredibly difficult years. Amid a crisis in the cost of life, it offers a place to get away from financial worries.”
A spokesperson for Midlothian Council said: “The temporary restrictions will be monitored throughout the period until October 2 and address safety concerns raised by our emergency partners about access in the event of an incident or emergency, due to the volume of parked vehicles.
“While encouraging activity and well-being, public safety remains the priority. Drivers can always park outside the designated clear lane and we encourage visitors to do so with care and consideration.”
A Scottish Water spokesperson said: “Scottish Water recognizes the challenges of safe parking at Gladhouse Reservoir and we are working on plans for a new car park. We currently don’t have a date for this and will post an update when we do.
“We are meeting regularly with Midlothian Council, Police Scotland, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and others and working to establish ways to provide safe access to the reservoir.
“We understand the importance of accessibility to our tanks and are using information from a user survey conducted last year to develop ways to improve the site for visitors.”