The European-style introduction of Airs is being hailed as a potential solution to the scourge of so-called “dirty camping” that has plagued Scotland in recent times.

A series of Areas – small-scale campsites with basic facilities such as overnight parking, waste disposal and water – have sprung up in the Highlands to help address the lack of water. equipment for motorhomes and motorhomes.

How do the Areas work?

The designated staging areas are less expensive than traditional caravan sites and popular throughout Europe, especially in France. Many Areas in Scotland are settled on farms or cultivated land.

What is “dirty camping”?

With more and more people from all over the UK vacationing from home due to restrictions and restrictions on overseas travel, this has sparked growing interest in camping and motorhomes.

The downside has been an unprecedented increase in litter and waste – human and animal – dumped across Scotland, hence the name “dirty camping“.

There has also been growing concern over reports of visitors dumping their trash in parking lots and on beaches, as well as blocking access to beauty spots with their vehicles.

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Earlier this year, ditches were dug around the village of Applecross in Wester Ross to stop parking in environmentally sensitive areas, with signs warning of litter and dirty camping.

Where does Aires operate?

Last month, Highland Council became what is believed to be the UK’s first local authority to temporarily ease licensing regulations and allow landowners with suitable locations to facilitate simple and inexpensive stopovers. by motorhome.

This means that there is no formal building permit required for Aires, where it is considered safe and reasonable.

A camper van passes a welcome sign as it crosses the Scottish border near Berwick-upon-Tweed. Photo: Oli Scarff / AFP via Getty Images

The temporary relaxation of planning control will be subject to ongoing review and will remain in place until December 31 or until physical distancing requirements have been removed.

An interest in Aires?

Absolutely. Ruaridh Ormiston opened the Croila Croft Kingussie Motorhome Aire two weeks ago and has already seen high demand.

“Most of the permanent trailer sites here are either closed for Covid, illness or completely full,” he told the Herald. “We had nine [motorhomes] and a tent one night. Last night was quieter with two RVs and two tents, but it’s midweek. I am surprised at how popular he has been. ”

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Mr Ormiston added that he had been contacted by more than a dozen people as far as Shetlands and Musselburghs in East Lothian, seeking advice on setting up their own Areas.

And after?

The challenge will be to find a long-term solution. Many are hoping Airs could become a permanent fixture in Scotland.

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