New motorhome scheme trialled to curb illegal camping in tourist hotspots
Dale Spridgeon, local democracy reporter
A new motorhome scheme is set to be trialled in Gwynedd in a bid to curb illegal camping.
Cyngor Gwynedd is set to try out five ‘aire’ style sites across the region for motorhomes and campervan users.
It hopes the legal sites will help avoid some of the social and environmental problems from illegal camping including littering.
‘Aires’ are continental style overnight stopping places, usually in public parking areas, occasionally on some private land, where motorhome and campervan users may stay for free or a small sum.
A pilot scheme is set to go ahead, after £240,000 funding was secured through the Welsh Government’s Brilliant Basics programme in May, 2022.
Now, an application to establish the five trial sites are set to be submitted to Gwynedd’s planning service.
The project will be known as “Aros-fan” and could be located at the Shell car park, Caernarfon, Y Glyn, Llanberis, Y Maes car park, Criccieth, North Quay, Pwllheli and the promenade car park, at Abermaw
If planning permission is granted, each of the five Aros-fan sites will have space for up to nine fee-paying motorhomes or campervans to park for a maximum of 48 hours.
They will include facilities for fresh water, chemical wastewater, recycling and general rubbish. Activities associated with traditional campsites – such as campfires and barbecues – will not be permitted.
Councillor Dafydd Meurig, Cyngor Gwynedd cabinet member for environment, said: “I am delighted that plans to trial the Aros-fan sites are taking another significant step forward.
“We are working hard to strike the right balance between promoting a sustainable tourism industry, tackling the issues caused by illegal and irresponsible over-night camping and also being respectful of private businesses and enterprises.
“As part of the preparation work, we have listened to the views and opinions of local communities, campsite operators and motorhome owners to understand the problem and come up with a solution that suits all sector.
“The Arosfan project goes hand-in-hand with a wider campaign to clamp down on illegal overnight camping in specific hot-spots where environmental problems – such as littering and worse – has been apparent.
Warmly welcoming the scheme Councillor Nia Jeffreys, Cyngor Gwynedd’s cabinet member for economic development added:
“Since the Covid pandemic, we have seen an explosion in the number of people visiting in motorhomes and campervans, and the lack of suitable facilities has led to a number of environmental and social problems.”
The plans, she said would contribute towards the council’s goal of providing a ” more sustainable” tourism industry.
The proposed sites will be located within walking distance to key towns and destinations and will operate a strict 48-hour maximum stay.
“This is aimed at making use of local transport links and infrastructure as well as ensuring that local businesses don’t miss out as people come to enjoy the unique tourist experience that Gwynedd has to offer,” She said.
“In addition to providing designated spaces for vans, the Council will be actively reminding visitors about the hazards caused by illegal camping and encouraging people to stay at licenced campsites.
“Increased enforcement and restrictions will also be in place to target key illegal camping hotspots”
If approved, it is hoped that the five trial sites will be operational by Spring, 2023.
Their impact will be monitored proves successful, further sites may be developed across the county.
The scheme was highlighted during discussions over Cyngor Gwynedd’s Sustainable Visitor Economy Plan, during the council’s cabinet meeting today, February 14.
Members approved its plan for the Gwynedd and Eryri Sustainable Visitor Economy 2035 – a strategic action plan, for a sustainable visitor economy.
The cabinet approved the establishment of the Gwynedd and Eryri 2035 Partnership in addition to the relevant structures that will be needed to develop, implement and monitor the Strategic Plan, The Gwynedd and Eryri 2035 Action Plan and its relevant indicators.
Cyngor Gwynedd and Eryri National Park Authority have reviewed their priorities and plans for the visitor economy in the area.
Among main issues it aimed to address were pressure on areas and public services, e.g. car parks, bins, roads, rural areas and tensions in some areas with unprecedented visitor number
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