Just two weeks after caravan site owner Billy Macrae complained to the NT about campervans and caravanners parking overnight at Dornoch Beach car park, a ban has been imposed on that in the future.
There had been numerous complaints about the removal of the ‘No Overnight Parking’ sign at the popular car park, resulting in the spot becoming overrun with campervans.
Highland Council decided a year ago to scrap the signs at Dornoch and throughout the Highlands after a decision by the Scottish Government agency Transport Scotland to remove such signs from all trunk routes based on legal advice.
Councillors were subsequently advised that if specific locations posed a problem they still had an option to apply for a road traffic order, which members of the Caithness and Sutherland area committee agreed to this week.
The move circumvents any potential legal challenge if notification of such an order is posted at the location.
Speaking after Monday’s debate at Drummuie, transport committee chairman and local councillor Graham Phillips said: “This is a resolution to a particular local issue where residents and other holidaymakers were sometimes being prevented from parking at the beach.
“The council decided a year ago on the widespread removal of the signs following legal advice.
“However, a year on, we are conducting a review of the impact of this decision since there may be a few locations where road traffic orders are needed.”
He continued: “We want to give the message to all visitors, particularly those travelling in caravans and motorhomes, that the Highlands is a welcoming and hospitable place.
“But we ask them to respect the communities they visit, particularly in terms of litter and waste disposal.”
Mr Macrae had initially asked the NT if we could highlight the problem in Dornoch because it was affecting his business. We contacted Councillor Phillips who immediately agreed to approach the area committee and ask for a road traffic order.
A similar issue has arisen in Durness in recent months.
The council says individual parking hot-spots will be reviewed and decisions made on the merits of each case.
But a Bonar Bridge woman, who asked not to be named, believes people should be more positive about the overnight parking of campervans in car parks and lay-bys.
She said: “Why is this jumped at as a problem and not an opportunity? Do we want to push many of these visitors out into the wilds where they can’t spend any money?
“Yes, some may be diverted from the campsites but many may just want to park overnight – so why not control it instead, make it on our terms, as happens in France and other European countries.
“Give them a set area, clear rules and maybe make them pay, that’s what happens elsewhere.
“Dare I say, even the Dornoch campsite owner could offer a simple parking option (maybe with “waste tip” and “water fill”) in a set/restricted area near his gate for a reduced nightly fee (again as in France).
“Gosh, we could even be ‘motorhome friendly’ and install signs to show where it’s suitable for vans (and bikes) to park.
“Or folk could put money in the slot (or a ‘jeton’ purchased from a local point/shop/pub/library whatever) and buy water/waste disposal and maybe even half an hour of electricity.”