ACCESS LAW chaos blighting farmland next to a problem tourist site would end if planning permission is granted for a £2 million visitor development, according to the architect behind the ambitious plans.

Farmer David Young has seen as many as 70,000 people a year tramp across his land near Killearn in Stirlingshire to get to Finnich Glen, also known as the Devil’s Pulpit, since the dramatic sandstone gorge was used in 2014 as a location for the hit TV series Outlander.

Mr Young has been unable to close the site because the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 gives access to undeveloped open land – and the gorge sits in an area of rough woodland among Mr Young’s fields.

Visitors wanting selfies at the location break down fences, let dogs loose, use fields as toilets, and leave heaps of litter. As a result, Mr Young’s nearby fields cannot be used for stock for much of the year.

Tourists also erode the fragile sandstone of the 100ft gorge and put themselves at risk, with regular calls upon the local mountain rescue team to haul them out.

Parking in nearby Station Road has become a headache for the local community – the narrow road, with no footpath, gets choked by up to 120 parked cars. Many tourists are now attracted not by the filming but by the gorge’s high social-media profile. Others just stop because they see cars parked.

The development proposed by Mr Young and his architects Bell Ingram would have free parking for 150 cars, a visitor centre, restaurant and toilets. To recoup the investment, an entrance fee would be charged to visit the gorge, which will be fenced off. The site will have bridges, proper footpaths and a wooden staircase to the bed of the gorge, replacing the existing collapsed stone steps.

Iain Cram of Bell Ingram, who drew up the scheme, said: “One of the great privileges we have in Scotland is we have a right to roam and a huge freedom of access to wonderful and spectacular scenery. One of the responsibilities that comes with that is we’ve got to treat it with care. That seems to have been lost to a certain extent at Finnich Glen and therefore control will be put in place.

“We will secure the site – the planning legislation allows us after planning consent is granted to control access to the site that is currently uncontrolled, and therefore we will be able to restrict people getting into the site on specific routes. This will be done through paid access to the glen, and it will be fenced.”

Mr Young will not develop the site himself. Mr Cram would not discuss the precise business model but said: “Before we even started with the planning process we introduced a potential operator and developer to David so we are now in fairly advanced discussion between developers, operators and landowner to be able to finance and construct the project.”

He stressed that the car park would be free because of local concerns a charge for parking would push people back onto the road.

“The glen has been a victim of its own success with the number of cars parking,” Mr Cram added. “We’ve got cars going at 60mph down a single track with pedestrians stepping out into the road – it’s quite unnerving. People are coming anyway and we can’t just turn them away, therefore we have to accommodate them.”

While he expected objections from some people concerned about open-country development, the response from most at a public consultation event had been positive. Stirling planners will decide on the proposals in the new year.