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Inverness Looking Hard At Waste From Camper Vans And Wild Campers - Should Other Areas Join Them?

27th July 2020

Ness-side councillor Ron MacWilliam has called for tough new local byelaws to deal with the recent surge in excessive littering, outdoor toileting and motorhome chemical waste tipping. Reports of inconsiderate waste disposal have flooded in from every corner of the Highlands in recent days and in Inverness locations such as the Merkinch Nature Reserve have also been plagued by the problem. Mr MacWilliam says the council needs to take a firm stance before the situation worsens further.

Cllr MacWilliam said:"The council already has powers to deal with fly-tipping and the police have various powers including under section 47 of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 in respect of outdoor toiletting. What they both lack is the resource to enforce these powers and I am grateful to council officers currently investigating the solutions available. Byelaws could form part of the answer as enforcement of a camping ban in certain areas would be easier to enforce than trying to identify detailed bad behaviour.

"This form of tourist is really not welcome in Inverness. They're destroying amenity areas with their selfish and inexplicable behaviour. Many of these areas are where families go to walk and children go to play. It is utterly disgusting and if we don't deal with the issue immediately these ‘tourists' will ironically destroy our tourism industry as the world-renowned Highland brand becomes associated with rogue visitors. We are also still in the grips of a pandemic and public hygeine is more important now than it has been at any other point in any of our lives. I have always supported the ‘right to roam’ and I know that the overwhelming majority of campers are responsible. We look forward to welcoming them all back for many years to come. What are dealing with is a ‘dirty tourist’ phenomenon that has been known about for a few years but has become an unwelcome craze since the end of the pandemic lockdown.

"The North Coast 500 profiteers and political cheerleaders have a lot to answer for. There isn’t the infrastructure here to support this unsustainable form of tourism and it has been reckless of those who have promoted motorhoming and camping in the Highlands on this scale without a plan for delivering the necessary infrastruture."

Cllr MacWilliam today received universal backing for the following recommendation at the City of Inverness Area Committee:

“The City of Inverness Area committee notes with increasing alarm and incredulity reports from across the Highlands of extreme levels of littering, open toileting and disposal of human waste by rogue elements amongst campervan, motorhome, and tent dwelling visitors. This situation is an immediate public health risk and will ultimately damage our area’s international reputation for high-quality tourism. The committee directs the Inverness Area Recovery Group to consider the drafting of new byelaws to introduce wild camping bans or regulation in compliance with the legislative ‘right to roam’ in the areas affected. It is requested that this work is discussed in detail at the next meeting of the recovery group in order for proposals to be considered for approval at the next meeting of the City of Inverness Area Committee."