Members of The Highland Council’s Tourism Committee have agreed to consider an approach to define a Council policy on overnight parking of motorhomes.
They also endorsed how consideration of the suitability of individual car parks for overnight parking by motorhomes might be undertaken. Views will be sought from community councils and Area Committees will review the proposals.
Chair of the Tourism Committee, Cllr Gordon Adam said:
“As part of the Council’s Visitor Management Plan and to help alleviate roadside motorhome overnight parking, it is proposed that Highland Council identifies key sites of existing off-street parking infrastructure and where suitable allow short stays (maximum of 24hrs) by motorhome/campervans; for a low-cost charge of £5.00 – £10.00.”
Highland Council is also working to improve the availability of fresh water, grey waste and black waste disposal facilities across the region.
Identified key ‘Hub’ sites could then be advertised via the industry recognised Campervan and Motorhome Professional Association (CAMPA) sites alongside other partners such as Visit Scotland and local destination marketing organisations.
Cllr Adam added:
“The significant rise in private motorhome ownership and rental companies in the UK and Europe, coupled with high demand to visit our beautiful Highland region, has identified a need to factor those trends into the Highland Visitor Management Plan.
“In peak season, rural communities and popular coastal areas can reach full capacity in caravan and motorhome sites quickly.
“By opening some appropriate Highland Council car parks for short overnight stopovers, it could help alleviate some of the inappropriate parking currently being reported across Highland communities.
“In the continent this type of stopover is often provided by the public sector to manage volume but also to encourage stops near communities which in turn could offer economic benefit.
“We continue to encourage visitors to the Highland region to plan and book ahead of travel, however we must also recognise the increase in popularity of self-contained travel.”
Current legislation and guidance on the use of car parks includes:
Use of public car parks is managed under the Road Traffic Act 1984 and The Roads Scotland Act 1984 & 1991.
Under the provision of a Traffic Regulation Order to cover a piece of land designated as a public car park the Roads Authority may apply such restrictions on use and enforcement of said restrictions as empowered by the legislation.
There are 230 off-street car parks regulated by the Highland Council’s Off-Street Traffic Regulation Order of 2016.
These sites range from 20 fully surfaced pay and display car parks to remote surfaced and unsurfaced free sites.
At present, use of these by motorhomes is often restricted.
In addition, there are 100 cemetery car parks and due to the sensitive nature of those sites the Council is proposing to prohibit motorhomes from using most cemetery car parks at all times.
Current legislation and guidance on other parking:
All on street parking is managed through separate sections of the Road Traffic Act 1984 & The Roads Scotland Act 1984 & 1991 and some key points to note are:
All roadworthy vehicles may use a designated lay-by to rest, including in a motorhome for such time as is required.
This includes pulling in to sleep overnight.
No offence or contravention is committed if the activity is contained within the vehicle.
As soon as tables/chairs/cooking etc takes place outside the vehicle then an offence is committed and can be adjudged as “camping”.
A vehicle should not be stationary within a “Passing Place” other than for the time required to allow a vehicle to pass.
Any vehicle parked in a passing place is committing an obstruction of the public road and is liable to be reported to Police Scotland.
A vehicle may pull onto a verge or land adjacent to the road if there is no restriction in place preventing this; they do not cause any damage; they do not cause danger or hazard to other road users.
Any driver who parks their vehicle in a car park or designated layby is still deemed to be in charge of their vehicle and may be required to move it if requested.
As other legislation e.g. alcohol consumption would still apply, this can have implications on what activities could be carried out when parked in these locations.
While this report presented at the Tourism Committee does not recommend the creation of large numbers of public sector managed sites it does recognise the need to extend a welcome to all visitors to Highland and to ensure there is adequate provision for them.
It also recognises that like many tourism and hospitality offerings, the motorhome community is also diverse, and a mixed offering is required to suit all tastes and budgets.