Commando Memorial must be excluded from motorhome plan

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The parking area at the Commando Memorial at Spean Bridge, as well as those at cemeteries, are just two examples of the sort of places that must be excluded in any consideration  of the suitability of individual car parks for overnight parking by motorhomes.

The Linnhe Community Alliance (LCA) which brings together local community councils has spent much time at recent meetings debating nuisance campers in both campervans and tents.

The comments on cemetery car parks and the parking at the Commando Memorial came from LCA secretary John Hutchison, who is also acting chairman of Kilmallie Community Council which is a member of the Alliance.

Linnhe Community Alliance secretary, John Hutchison, pictured, who says the car park at the Commando Memorial should be considered sacrosanct in any proposals for use of car parks for overnight stays by motorhome users. Photograph: Iain Ferguson, alba.photos JOHN HUTCHISON John Hutchison. Photograph: Iain Ferguson, alba.photos
Linnhe Community Alliance secretary, John Hutchison. Photograph: Iain Ferguson, alba.photos

Mr Hutchison was responding after members of The Highland Council’s Tourism Committee last week agreed to consider defining a  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 then review the proposals.

Chairman of the Tourism Committee, Councillor Gordon Adam, said as part of the council’s Visitor Management Plan and to help ease roadside motorhome overnight parking, it had been proposed that Highland Council identifies key sites of existing off-street parking infrastructure and where suitable allow short stays (maximum of 24 hours) by motorhomes/campervans, for a low cost charge of £5-£10.

The council is also working to improve the availability of fresh water, as well as 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 VisitScotland and local destination marketing organisations.

Mr Adam added: ‘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.’

Use of public car parks is managed under the Road Traffic Act 1984 and The Roads Scotland Act 1984 & 1991.

There are 230 off-street car parks regulated by the Highland Council’s Off-Street Traffic Regulation Order of 2016.  In addition, there are 100 cemetery car parks and due to the sensitive nature of those sites, the council is proposing to banning motorhomes from using most cemetery car parks at all times.

Commenting, Mr Hutchison told us: ‘The Alliance can understand why the Highland Council is trying to find a way to accommodate the current proliferation of campervan users and the locations chosen will need careful consideration and agreement within local communities.

‘How the sites are maintained and rules enforced will be critical to their success.  We are pleased that community councils will have the chance to examine the detailed proposals for their areas when they emerge.

‘Established caravan sites may still be the best means of dealing with waste and, while cemetery car parks must be excluded, places like the Commando Memorial must also be regarded as sacrosanct.

‘Covid restrictions have made self-contained travel for holidays extremely popular and we can see why this is likely to continue.

‘However, there is a debate still to be had over the environmental sustainability of this mode of travel and about how the environmental and tourism infrastructure in the Highlands can cope with this growing demand.’ alba.photos