Car parks across Highland to take part in overnight stay charge pilot
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Overnight short stay parking by motorhome users is being piloted in twelve regulated Highland Council car parks for the summer and autumn seasons in 2022.
Designated car parks in Inverness, Nairn, Caithness, Sutherland and Wester Ross have been included in the trial scheme which aims to charge users for a self-contained overnight stay in their vehicle in allocated parking bays.
The council’s tourism committee members agreed to take a pragmatic approach to additional parking provision for motorhome visitors across the Highlands.
The goal of the pilot is to allow motorhomes to occupy a designated bay in specific council car parks for a maximum stay period of 24 hours for a modest fee.
Highland Council confirmed that Badenoch and Strathspey, Lochaber and Isle of Skye were not identified in the initial pilot. Following the findings from the pilot and with members' support, more car parks could be piloted in the future.
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.
“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 for up to 24 hours only, and all activities must be contained within the vehicle i.e. no awnings, tables, chairs, cooking etc. outside the vehicle at any time.
Users should take care not to impact on the local environment and leave no trace of their stay.
The locations identified for the pilot this summer are:
Torvean Car Park, Inverness
Nairn Harbour, Nairn
Dunnet Head Car Park, Caithness
Dunnet Seadrift Car Park, Caithness
Noss Head Car Park, Caithness
Reiss Beach Car Park, Caithness
Riverside Car Park, Wick
Durness Village – Tourist Info Car Park, Sutherland
Golspie Shore Street Car Park, Sutherland
Ullapool Latheron Car Park, Wester Ross
Gairloch Harbour Car Park, Wester Ross
Little Gruinard Beach Car Park, Wester Ross
The tariff for an overnight short stopover between 10pm and 8am in designated car parks are:
- £10.00 charge per night max stay 24 hours, no return within 72 hours
- Overnight parking is classed as between 10pm and 8am
- All activities must be contained within the vehicle
- Overnight stopovers only stay valid with a ticket and only in allocated bays when provided