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MP Jamie Stone starts campaign to introduce roadside camping congestion charge in far north

By Alan Hendry

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Motorhomes at Durness last year.
Motorhomes at Durness last year.

North MP Jamie Stone has started a campaign to introduce a roadside camping congestion charge in the far north.

He is asking his constituents in Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross to join him in petitioning the Scottish Government on the idea, with a suggestion that profits would be ring-fenced for investment in roads and facilities.

The move comes after a Facebook page called NC500 The Land Weeps gained 3000 members in under two weeks and after hundreds of constituents contacted the Liberal Democrat MP about the issues facing communities along the North Coast 500 route.

“I fully support our tourism industry and I want tourists to enjoy the beauty of the far north," Mr Stone said. "But, while most visitors treat our beautiful environment with the love and respect that we locals do, unfortunately some do not.

"The NC500 has been a brilliant boost to the far north, benefiting local hotels and businesses. However, for it to reach its full potential we need to see increased investment into the roads.

"Having a few hundred bicycles is not doing the damage – instead, it’s the very heavy campervans and motorhomes that crush our narrow single-track roads, for which Highland Council has to pick up the bill.

Motorhomes at Durness last year.
Motorhomes at Durness last year.

"We want to welcome people to the Highlands with open arms, so long as they respect what we have to offer.

"We are at the stage now where the benefits of roadside tourism are being outweighed by the cost to our roads, public services and the overall wellbeing of our communities.

"That's why I am organising a petition, which I hope locals will join me in signing, to the Scottish Government that asks them to introduce a roadside camping congestion charge in the Highlands. Ideally, the profit would be ring-fenced for investment in our roads and roadside facilities.

"It is simply unfair that us locals continue to bear the economic, environmental and societal cost inflicted by an influx of roadside campers that our roads simply cannot accommodate."

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