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.