Fears over health and environmental damage being caused by a huge rise in motorhomes to the Western Isles has led the islands’ council to issue a stark warning.
The islands have had just eight confirmed cases of coronavirus and no covid-19 deaths – the lowest total in the country.
But Western Isles Council (Comhairle nan Eilean Siar) has written to Islands Minister Paul Wheelhouse over the threat posed by soaring numbers of staycation campers and the problems they have brought in their wake.
The council said it was expressing its concerns “and those of its communities” about the “significant increase” in campervans and motorhomes travelling to the isles since the easing of lockdown.
It had led to worries over health and environmental problems and complaints from communities about ‘wild camping’ or ‘roadside camping’.
“While the council’s message to campervan and motorhome visitors has, from the outset, been not to visit the Western Isles unless they have a booking at an official camp site, given that facilities and services at camp sites are not open, it is apparent that this is being largely ignored with resultant adverse impacts on the local environment,” said a spokesman for the council.
“The council reiterated that message in their letter to the Minister and asked that CalMac agree to post the following advisory notice on their website, on behalf of the Comhairle (council):’Comhairle nan Eilean Siar requests that during the Covid-19 pandemic, visitors in caravans, motorhomes and campervans pre-book with official campsites on the Western Isles, before travelling.
“’This is the message coming from our local communities and which has our full support to protect the health of visitors and our local communities, so that numbers can be properly managed and waste can be disposed of safely, without detriment to the local environment. This applies to all routes to and visitor destinations within the Western Isles.’”