East Lothian Courier – 5 October 2023


Tourism’s changed, bringing new challenges for communities. Recently, I took my eldest son to the Isle of Lewis to show him family graves and the sites I knew as a boy when grandparents annually. Cruise liners were in Stornoway Harbour every day, dwarfing the Cal Mac ferry we’d sailed in on and bringing challenges to local scenic sites.

Providing for them comes at a cost and it shouldn’t just be borne by the local community. Exactly, as I think a modest tourist levy upon myself and my son perfectly reasonable, so should a charge for visitors disembarking from these Sea Leviathans.

Similarly, sailing out of Ullapool, the campsite there was full of Campervans and tents were few. Now I’ve friends who use them. One couple I know travel extensively not just in the UK and Ireland but across Europe. Another friend’s a hill climber and mountaineer using his as a base for his jaunts. Like most campervan users they respect where they’re staying and seek to utilize appropriate sites.

Unfortunately, there’s a minority who don’t. Simply parking up where they wish, whether it’s appropriate and not caring about the consequences of their stay. Island graveyards should be respected and East Lothian towns likewise.

Parking sites built for short stays by the local community or visitors accessing the beach or sites aren’t constructed for campervans nor capable of sufficing. Moreover, they can have an adverse impact on the local community both in the loss of what they had and also the impact of what they have to endure.

Of course, some areas will always have to be off site as my Munro bagging friend will testify. But in areas such as North Berwick it should be designated sites where facilities are available. There should be a trade off between a modest charge and services.

We already have commercial sites who provide these facilities and if inadequate they should either be encouraged to expand, or other sites provided, whether operated by them or others. But allowing them to park wherever or giving them priority over the local community’s simply wrong.