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North politicians urge caravan and campervan owners to stay away from Highlands

By Alan Hendry

A lone campervan in the car park at John O'Groats on Sunday. Picture: Alan Hendry
A lone campervan in the car park at John O'Groats on Sunday. Picture: Alan Hendry

NORTH politicians Gail Ross and Jamie Stone have joined forces to urge all caravan and campervan owners planning to visit the Highlands to stay at home.

They have written to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Prime Minister Boris Johnson to ask for a joined-up strategy to stop "irresponsible tourism" during the coronavirus pandemic.

Mrs Ross, the SNP MSP for Caithness, Sutherland and Ross, and Mr Stone, the Liberal Democrat MP for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, say visitors should be denied the right to park their mobile homes wherever they please.

Mrs Ross said: "In normal circumstances, we would give visitors to the Highlands a warm welcome, but now that we are in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic things have changed completely.

"Our constituents are appalled by the prospect of visitors unwittingly bringing coronavirus to the far north. The best way to beat the pandemic is to stop the spread of the virus – and for this reason, it is essential potential visitors keep to their homes in the south, thereby minimising the risks to our constituents."

Mr Stone said: "Both the Scottish and UK governments are going to have to take firm action on selfish tourism that is so worrying local people, many of whom are elderly and on a potential coronavirus danger list.

"At present Scotland has a very open policy to visitors, which is enshrined in right-to-roam legislation. Today Gail and I have written to both governments to put in place a temporary repeal of this legislation, thus ensuring that opportunities for irresponsible visitors to park their mobile homes wherever they please are denied."

Mrs Ross added: "Jamie and I both feel that in this time of national emergency our political differences are of no consequence. For this reason we should be working together closely to do all we can for our constituents, their livelihoods and lives."

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