Tuesday, October 27, 2009

CAMPERVANS ON TIREE: REPORT BY THE TIREE ACCESS STEERING GROUP

A public meeting at An Talla on Tuesday 20th October was attended by 41 locals and visitors.

Tiree Access Steering Group put forward a proposal to the residents of Tiree on a way forward for providing sites for the increasing number of visiting campervans/motorhomes. The meeting was chaired by Cllr Mary Jean Devon with an introduction by John Bowler.

We know from Cal Mac that there was a 50% increase in Campervans/motorhomes in October '08 – May 09 on the previous year and a 154% increase in June/July 09 compared with the same period 08.

The key problem is the lack of facilities resulting in vehicles parking illegally off-road on unfenced ground causing erosion to the machair and dunes, most of which are designated under European law for their wildlife interest and we have a duty of care to look after these. Disposal of sewage also became an increasing problem in these areas.

The proposal being put forward is that a number of sites for up to 3 campervans/motorhomes will be set up on crofts and farms in time for next year. Provision will also be made for the disposal of sewage and grey water. The idea is for sites to be booked centrally and a reference number provided before a ferry ticket can be purchased.

Q: why is the increasing number of camper vans and motor-homes thought to be an issue?
We like to welcome our visitors and give them the best possible experience on Tiree. At present the only facility we have is the campsite which was full all summer. Damage to the grazing and environmentally designated sites has meant that campervans, vans etc are being asked to move on which is making visitors feel unwelcome – this situation needs to be addressed by providing appropriate facilities.
Q:Why does it matter where they park? Restrictions make people feel unwelcome.
A: We need to protect the environment. The Access Officer has had many conversations over the busy season, most people would like an authorised site where they are welcomed and would be happy to pay a small nightly fee. Feedback from visitors is that most are respectful of the fragility of the environment and support responsible parking.
Q: If there are authorised sites provided then why do they have to pre-book?
A: The Pre-booking system will allow numbers of vehicles coming to be limited to number of sites available.
Q: Many van users will sleep on designated sites but what about the daytime?
A: This comes under the broader issue of beach access which applies to all vehicles– the Access Group will continue to encourage responsible access and work at providing authorised access tracks and car parks.
Q. How many sites will there be?
A. There is strong interest from several crofters to provide sites. We would like to provide as many sites as vehicles requiring them. There is not thought to be a need at present to limit the number of sites.
Q: What happens if you're coming with a campervan to reside with family or friends?
A: You would be allocated a special reference number.
Q: Who will the money go to?
A: The person providing the site with a small percentage going to the run the booking system.
Q: What about panel vans? Why are campervans and motor-homes being singled out?
A: They will not be ignored. If they park in unauthorized areas they will be moved on to authorised sites
Q: What will be done if people continue to park in unauthorised areas after being asked to move?
A: It is an offence to drive off the public road unless using designated tracks and sites and if people refuse to move to authorised sites then the police would have to become involved.

Result of a show of hands were 26 in favour, 3 against, 6 abstentions. If you are on the electoral role and would like to take part in this community vote please complete one of the slips available locally and return to TRD, Tiree Rural Centre, Crossapol, Tiree PA77 6UP with your name and address on the reverse by Friday 30th Oct. Votes with no name & address will not be counted.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sorry to see you seem to be having a problem with campervans - as the owner of one myself (but yet to visit Tiree) could I respectfully put forward a counter view? I fully appreciate that machair and other sensitive environments need protection and I deplore those users of campervans who park irresponsibly or who dump their sewerage and waste - but for the responsible ones amongst us who take great care not to do this it is a shame - (for example I arranged for my van to be fitted with a non chemical toilet to allow it to be emptied in to septic tank systems etc, having read and taken note of the notices appearing in West Highland public toilets). For all practical purposes I find it hard to differentiate between parking my van responsibly at the roadside to go for a walk and parking it in the same location overnight to sleep - any damage to the ground is likely to be the same, although I will not park somewhere I think this is likely to occur. I suggest you may be slightly mistaken in your interpretation of the law with regards to driving off the road as I believe there may be an exemption in some circumstances within a distance of 15 yards for the purposes of parking. Its not a financial issue either - many of us prefer to be parked somewhere out of the way on our own rather than on a site, however small - thats often why we choose to come to places like Tiree, and if we dont spend our money on campsites we are then able to spend it on other local businesses such as shops and cafes. Please dont think this is a rant - I'm trying to be constructive, so perhaps you could consider a few designated service points where people could empty waste and perhaps take on fresh water? Any by all means deal firmly with those who abuse the area - but I personally would rather see the offenders prosecuted for dropping litter than be moved on for parking overnight somewhere where nobody seems to mind if I park all day. I know its a problem and I sympathise with your difficulties - I just feel its a shame if sensible and responsible wild campers are penalised for the irresponsible actions of others. Good luck with finsing a solution and I look forward to visiting Tiree on a future trip.

Gillian Samouelle said...

I am totally in agreement with the above post and have been putting together a letter to send to TRD, but the post says it all really. My prospective is slightly different to the about in the fact that we are visitors to the island in our van and have been for a number of years. My suggestion for service points would be Crossapol, Cornaig and Scarinish. These are developed areas and the cost should be low. A daily tariff for staying on the island rather than individual sites would also work better. As the post above says we choose Tiree and the like, to be away from other people. This fee could be used to recoup the costs of providing and maintaining these facilities. I hope that we will be able to return to Tiree for many years to come. Tiree is my favourite as I have mobility problems,and the relatively flat terrain makes it my ideal holiday, I hope that 'abusers' will not spoil it for more responsible visitors. Good luck

Anonymous said...

I know it's great for camper vans to feel they want the isolation and to park where they want,they cannot do this on the mainland, and maybe they are wrong on it being illegal but I feel van owners must also realise that the Machair is used for the crofters animals and this is the crofters way of life. Vans on the mainland would not even consider using farm land to park their vans without asking so why do they do it on Tiree without asking? be a considerate camper and ask before you park overnight

Anonymous said...

I have been a visitor to Tiree for the last 20 years as Camper and motorhome owner. If we park overnight at a campsite, drive to the beach during the day, back to the campsite at night and back to the beach the following day surely this causes twice the damage or erosion to the Machir !! I have never seen any camper van dump waste or Sewage.
Tiree is a really special place to visit and i hope that it is not spoiled by a few that if were not complaning about campers would be complaning about something else !!

andy said...

surely paying for a service ie to park overnight on someones land means that the crofter then has a duty of care towards said vans and van owners. some of the machair i have seen is littered with old vehicle parts and other bits and bobs (potentially dangerous?), not to mention the animals. if i pay to park somewhere and a cow scratches my van then will the crofter pay for a respray?

Anonymous said...

i have also been a visitor to tiree for the last 20 years and been a van owner for the last 6 years , we used to rent houses but as the island became more poular the prices have risen , so we decided to buy a van , we planned to use our van for tiree holidays the first year we had our van we visted the island 3 times easter summer and october, fantastic no problems my boys love tiree, but as the years go on we feel less and less welcome and my wife is not keen to go back, we are responsible people just looking for a relaxing family holiday in one of the most beautiful places in scotland maybe even the world,as one of the last posts say if we can stay at the beach instead of travelling back and forth to overnight parking spots this would cause less damage, i would be quite happy to pay the nominal fee to park in one of the designated parking spots at the beaches as this is why we come to tiree not be parked in some field or under a wind turbine, maybe if you had a ban on 4x4`s this would protect the fragile enviroment more, please get this sorted so as my family can enjoy tiree again, chris.