“STAYCATIONERS” could be allowed to carry on camping in some council car parks around Argyll and Bute, a report has revealed.

Community chiefs are currently discussing plans to ensure informal campers using the area during the spring and summer do so responsibly.

And an Argyll and Bute Council officer has said that the possibility of allowing motorhomes to stay overnight in at least some of the authority’s car parks is being examined.

The practice is not currently allowed in any of the council’s car parks, and any proposal to overturn that rule would require councillors’ approval.

A report on informal camping was discussed by the council’s Mid-Argyll, Kintyre and the Islands community planning group (CPG) on February 3 and was also considered by the CPG for the Helensburgh and Lomond area last Thursday.

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Craig Wilson, economic growth officer with the council, said: “Over recent years people have been holidaying differently.

“Most notably, we have seen that there has been a steady increase in the number of people camping informally, in tents and camper vans, in many parts of Argyll and Bute.

“This situation was exacerbated last summer following the easing of lockdown restrictions in July across the UK, with many places and local communities experiencing an increase in visitors informally camping.

“Tourism is exceptionally important to Argyll and Bute’s local economy and also our way of life. The council wishes to welcome as many visitors as sustainably possible, to enjoy the local places we are fortunate to call home.

“This custom supports many services and facilities we currently rely on, as our population on its own cannot sustain them.

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“The situation across 2020, due to Covid-19 and the initial level of restrictions, which visitors and businesses had to work through, was in many ways unique, however it is very much likely to continue into 2021.

“The vast majority of visitors to Argyll and Bute respect the people and places they visit.

“However, in certain circumstances, challenges can occur and will sometimes result in complaints to various public agencies – littering, inappropriate disposal of toilet waste, inconsiderate parking, antisocial behaviour etc.

“Sometimes the main issue can simply be the volume and frequency of people using a particular area, week after week.”

Mr Wilson then outlined some of the actions being taken to ensure that informal camping can take place safely.

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He said: “We are currently investigating the practicalities and regulatory aspects to see if it might be appropriate for motorhomes to stay overnight in some suitably identified council car parks, similar to the Forestry and Land Scotland’s ‘Stay the Night’ scheme which took place in 2020.

“[This is being done] with input and detailed feedback being sourced from the council’s roads and infrastructure service, planning service, Fire Scotland and environmental health service of the council.

“If we are able to develop a suitable proposal this would need to go to elected members for consideration and approval as appropriate.

“We are finalising a reporting form/consultation questionnaire which will be promoted shortly to communities, landowners, etc which will help document community experience of informal camping.

“It has also been identified that clearer guidance and collated resources for businesses/landowners/community organisations could help them better consider increasing overnight motorhome parking provision were they are interested in doing so.

“We are trying to pull together better provision of information on the regulatory aspects and the installation of facilities, which should hopefully help interested parties respond to the opportunity that the increase in motorhomes presents.”

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