Can European-style ‘Aires’ resolve Scotland’s ‘soiled tenting’ drawback?

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THE introduction of Aires in a European style is hailed as a possible solution to the scourge of so-called “dirty camping” that has plagued Scotland recently.

A number of Aires – small campsites with basic facilities like overnight parking, garbage disposal, and water – have popped up in the Highlands to address the lack of RV and RV amenities.

How does Aires work?

The designated rest areas are cheaper than conventional caravan sites and are popular throughout Europe, especially in France. Many Aires in Scotland are built on farms or crofting land.

What is “dirty camping”?

As more and more people from across the UK go on holiday due to restrictions and restrictions on international travel, this has resulted in an increased interest in camping and motorhomes.

The downside has been an unprecedented increase in rubbish and litter – both from humans and animals – being dumped across Scotland, hence the name “dirty camping”.

There is also growing concern over reports of visitors dumping litter in parking lots and beaches and blocking access to attractions 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 locations, and signs were posted warning of rubbish and dirty camping.

Where does Aires come in?

Last month, the Highland Council, believed to be the first UK local authority, temporarily relaxed licensing requirements, allowing landowners with suitable locations to make easy, inexpensive RV stopovers.

This means that Aires does not require a formal building permit as it is considered safe and reasonable.

A motorhome passes a welcome sign as it crosses the border into Scotland near Berwick-upon-Tweed. Image: Oli Scarff / AFP via Getty Images

The temporary relaxation of planning controls is constantly being reviewed and will remain in place until December 31, or until the clearance regulations are lifted.

Are you interested in Aires?

Absolutely. Ruaridh Ormiston opened the Croila Croft Kingussie Motorhome Aire a fortnight ago and is already seeing high demand.

“Most of the permanent trailer pitches up here are either closed or completely full because of Covid, illness,” he told The Herald. “We had nine [motorhomes] and one night a tent. Last night was quieter with two RVs and two tents, but that’s the middle of the week. I’m surprised how popular it is. ”

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Mr Ormiston added that he has been contacted by more than a dozen people, including Shetland and Musselburgh in East Lothian, for advice on establishing their own Aires.

What’s next?

The challenge will be to find a long-term solution. Many hope that Aires could become a fixture in Scotland.

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