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'Dirty campers' putting public toilets in Black Isle village of Avoch in jeopardy as visitor season hits peak

By Neil MacPhail

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Gwyn Tanner: Tried.
Gwyn Tanner: Tried.

THE harbour village of Avoch looks set to lose its public toilets after the facility was plagued by a series of expensive blockages.

It is the second time the village toilets have been under threat. Five years ago the Highland Council facility was about to close as part of cost cutting, but Avoch Harbour Trust came to the rescue and took it on.

Black Isle councillor Sarah Atkin said: “Vandalism, and disrespect for public and community property – like our toilets – is an increasing and costly menace. The Avoch Harbour Trust has done a great job running the toilets these past five years but I understand they’ve just had enough of the toilets being used for camper van waste. Just one too many blockage.

“The costs of continual repair are unsustainable.

“We have two local camp sites happy to dispose of waste, for a small charge.

“That’s what is so frustrating.”

Cllr Atkin added: “Camper vans often park in the village overnight, right by the toilets, and say they’re ‘wild’ campers. A nonsense.”

Gwyn Tanner, harbourmaster for Avoch Harbour Trust, said: “Enough is enough.

“We have given Highland Council notice that we are closing as of June 30.

“We tried to save the toilets when the council wanted to close them, and we get £200 a month from their comfort fund towards costs, but that just pays for the cleaner.

“It costs the trust £5000 a year to run the toilets.

“The camper van people keep emptying their boxes despite explicit signs asking them not to and directing them to where they can dump their waste for a small charge.

“I have my own signs saying ‘No dirty campers’.

“The situation has escalated and recently we had four plumbing call outs with blockages from camper van waste in two months at £65 a call out and we have decided to close.”

The council wanted to sell them the toilets for £1 but the trust chose not to since it was unsure of who owned the land.

In the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003, overnight parking in a motorhome is not considered wild camping, and public access rights to most land do not apply to any motorised vehicles.

The use of a motorhome is controlled mainly through the Road Traffic legislation.

Wild camping is only allowed when on foot, bike, or some other form of non-motorised transport.

The Scottish Outdoor Access Code secures public access rights however these access rights do not cover vehicular access.

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