Motion approved calling on Scottish Government support to tackle ‘uncontrolled camping’

Members of The Highland Council today (3 August 2020) agreed the following motion to Council:

“Many areas of the Highlands are being adversely affected by a huge increase in uncontrolled camping. This may or may not improve with the opening of camp sites. Future demand from "staycationers" may well outstrip any possible supply of campsite spaces.

“The public health risks from this increase in camping during a pandemic must be addressed with urgency. Steps that may be taken to reduce public health risks include increase waste collections, better traffic management, restrictions on alcohol consumption, and financial support for beach or countryside wardens, temporary toilet and handwashing facilities. Highland Council commits to use its resources where practicable and affordable to support such steps and calls on the Scottish Government and its agencies to work with us.”

The motion was signed by Councillors Ben Thompson, Andrew Baxter, John Finlayson and Calum Munro.

Members also approved two additional amendments to the motion:

“Visitors to Highland have been asked to respect the environment and the destination that they are visiting, and this message has been raised repeatedly by the Tourism Minister and his Scottish Government colleagues, Visit Scotland, Police Scotland and communities. It is very sad that the actions of a minority are having an impact on the rest of law-abiding people.

“The Scottish Government have dedicated marketing campaigns and guidance for people looking to enjoy the outdoors or a “staycation” safely, including compliance with the Scottish Outdoor Access Code (SOAC).  This, of course, is staple to maintaining and enjoying the beautiful landscape and sights that we all enjoy across our region.

“The Council has put into place certain initiatives such as increasing bin collections or assessing Byelaws to stop vehicles from parking at certain hot-spots.  Also, there have been assurances that the Community Policing Teams are taking these matters very seriously indeed. They do have powers under the Antisocial Behaviour etc (Scotland) Act 2004 to issue on-the-spot fines (fixed penalty notices) to people who are behaving in antisocial ways.

“We therefore acknowledge the good work of the Highland Council and Police Scotland in dealing with the minority of visitors who are ignoring the rules.”

By Councillor Maxine Smith.

And …

“The Council urgently investigates how best to encourage private hosting of campervans and caravans by crofters and small-holders and publicises the results of this study widely.”

By Councillor Gordon Adam.

3 Aug 2020
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