Aires network planned for motorhomes in the Highlands
A network of Aires could be created across the Highlands to cater for motorhomes and campervans travelling the area.
Highland Council's Tourism Committee is working with its partners in Scottish Government, NatureScot, VisitScotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Cairngorm National Park Authority, SEPA, Scottish Water, the Campervan and Motorhome Professional Association (CAMPA), and local groups to ensure that the area can maximise the opportunities for tourism while minimising the risks to local communities.
These risks became an acute problem in the Highlands after the first lockdown was lifted earlier this year, with a surge in 'informal' camping in motorhomes and campervans highlighting issues of "irresponsible behaviour" with overnight parking, waste disposal, and refuse and recycling.
It is hoped that a network of Aires — which are free or low-cost overnight parking facilities already popular across the Continent — could provide a safer place for motorhomes and campervans to stop overnight.
Councillor Maxine Smith, Tourism Committee Chair said: “The Council is open to hearing from landowners who are interested in providing simple short stay facilities known on the continent as ‘Aires’. Primarily these provide short overnight basic stopping facilities for people on longer journeys that bring economic benefit to local businesses from those overnighting at an Aire.
"It may be that you are a farmer with a spare field or someone with an extra-large garden, but we need to start thinking more commercially as well as trying to alleviate any issues caused by motorhomes. We welcome tourists in the Highlands, but we need to make sure we have the right infrastructure in place for them."
Dedicated overnight parking facilities for motorhomes are already planned for Lochinver, Helmsdale, Bonar Bridge and Cromarty, such as those already provided at Kinlochbervie and Keiss.
Anyone with any initial queries about Aires in the Highlands can email the Council's Tourism Officer.