Camper van campaign group calls for overnight parking facilities to be provided in Northumberland

A campaign group has called for proper overnight parking facilities for camper vans in Northumberland.

Wednesday, 16th September 2020, 4:47 pm

The Campaign for Real Aires UK has made the appeal in response to concerns raised by several coastal communities about the influx of camper vans over the summer.

Issues have been reported in communities including Alnmouth, Bamburgh, Seahouses, Beadnell and Amble.

However, Graham Stokes, a member of the Campaign for Real Aires UK, believes the economic value of camper van tourism should not be underestimated.

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The Campaign for Real Aires UK wants places like Northumberland to be more welcoming to camper vans.

"Motorhomes mean business for Northumberland and its surrounding attractions,” said Graham. “Thousands of motorhomes pass through onto Scotland every year.

"Let’s provide facilities to allow them to stop and spend a night or two here.

"Let us promote Northumberland as a motorhome friendly place to stop, visit and you will see that all those motorhome owners will spend money in our shops, restaurants, pubs and tourist venues.”

He points out that many motorhomes are owned by retired people who, on average, spend 50% more on holidays than most working people.

The Campaign for Real Aires UK wants overnight parking facilities to be provided for motorhomes.

Many would ordinarily head for the continent but have chosen a UK staycation this year due to coronavirus.

He added: “Many of these motorhome owners currently choose to take their holidays in Europe, simply because they feel unwelcome in the UK and, as motorhomes are usually all year round vehicles, the loss to the UK is enormous.

“We feel unwelcome because we are expected to stay on campsites, remote from the shops, pubs and restaurants we would like to visit, and campsite owners actively lobby town and city councils to disallow motorhomes parking ‘off grid’.

“However motorhomes are autonomous. They carry their own fresh and waste water supply, toilet and showers and their own power, often in the form of solar panels. A motorhome is designed for adventure, touring and sightseeing, not sitting on a rural campsite far from anything of interest.

A notice to motorhome drivers in Port Erroll, Peterhead.

“Last week we stayed at Kielder forest to see the dark skies on their car park. There were 17 vans (all paying £10 a van). The ground was level and the only other facility they provided in addition to their CCTV were the toilets were open 24 hours. This meant that they were able to cater for ‘day vans’.

“We ate at the diner on site, at the picnic tables provided. If the pub had been open we would have had a drink there also.”

He would like to see continental-style aires in the UK, providing facilities for replenishing fresh water, discharging waste water, emptying toilets and staying for up to 48/72 hours.

Sometimes these aires are free, but more often there is a small charge of €5 - €10 per night and an additional cost of €2 for up to 100 litres of water.

“Northumberland has a unique opportunity to attract a year round flow of a limited number of motorhome owners by establishing a system of small aires in car parks,” said Graham.

“These facilities are often almost always empty overnight, having legitimate vehicles overnight can also help with antisocial behaviour, crime and security and this is business that is being lost to many, many businesses now within Northumberland.”

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