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Five Caithness car parks to be part of new motorhome overnight parking pilot scheme in the Highland Council area

By John Davidson

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Reiss Beach is one of the honeypot locations where motorhome users will be able to stop overnight.
Reiss Beach is one of the honeypot locations where motorhome users will be able to stop overnight.

A trial that allows motorhome users to park overnight in designated Highland Council car parks has been approved.

Five car parks in Caithness and two in Sutherland are among 12 across the region that will be included in the pilot scheme.

Motorhomes will be allowed to park overnight for a fee, within allocated bays and with all activity contained within the vehicle – meaning no awnings, tables, chairs or cooking will be allowed outside the vehicle.

The council’s tourism committee members agreed to the additional parking provision for motorhome visitors across the Highlands.

Caithness car parks at the Riverside in Wick, Dunnet Head, Dunnet Seadrift, Noss Head and Reiss Beach will be among those to test the new system, alongside Durness tourist information centre and Golspie Shore Street car parks in Sutherland.

Elsewhere in the Highlands, Torvean in Inverness, Nairn Harbour, Ullapool Latheron, Gairloch Harbour and Little Gruinard Beach car parks will be part of the scheme.

Executive chief officer for infrastructure, environment and economy, Malcolm MacLeod said: “The council recognises that ownership and rental of motorhomes/campervans has grown exponentially in the last three years and is an increasing trend as people look to enjoy ‘staycations’ and the freedom to explore the great outdoors.

“From the data captured by the seasonal access rangers and traffic officers throughout the summer of 2021, it is evident that in certain ‘honeypot’ destinations in peak summer that demand for formal campsites can be outweighed by availability, also that there are many people that don’t choose to stay in a formal facility.

“The use of laybys for overnight parking, although not illegal, restricts access for more safety related use. It is hoped that by introducing legal use of designated council car parks for overnight stays that it could relieve some issues on the public road network.

The riverside car park in Wick is part of the trial. Picture: DGS
The riverside car park in Wick is part of the trial. Picture: DGS

“To mitigate some of the problems encountered with inconsiderate parking, waste and capacity problems in key locations, the council has considered all our coastal car parks and identified locations suitable to pilot a self-contained overnight stay, where people can park and stay overnight in the vehicle.

"The aim is to provide for a single night stay only as a transit type stopover. It is anticipated that as tourism infrastructure improvements continue across the country, people will learn what to expect when travelling in Scotland and the limitations for vehicle based holidays/travel, particularly in rural and popular tourist destinations.”

The overnight parking will be limited to a maximum of 24 hours. Users will be charged £10 per night, with no return allowed within 72 hours.

The pilot scheme will be closely monitored, and a report given to a future tourism committee.

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