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Officials at North Ayrshire Council will not follow the Highland Council’s decision to temporarily relax licensing regulations which allow landowners to set up continental style motorhome stopovers.
The stopovers, known as ‘Aire’ – Àirigh and meaning shieling in Gaelic – will be allowed in the Highland Council area which covers a huge portion of northern Scotland and is the largest local government area in the United Kingdom.
The Highland Council is believed to be the first local authority in the UK to temporarily relax regulations to allow for a number of small, simple and low-cost short stopovers for motorhome visitors but not all councils will be following its lead.
Chairman of the Highland Council’s tourism committee Councillor Gordon Adam said: ‘The Scottish government’s ongoing commitment to a temporary relaxation of planning controls allows the Highland Council to consider temporary use of appropriate locations for overnight stops in motorhomes without formal planning permission.
‘To mitigate some of the problems experienced in summer 2020, temporary Àirigh will offer a safe, off-road location for motorhomes to park for the night and help alleviate parking problems in rural areas.
‘Aires are used all over Europe and Àirigh could offer an opportunity to assist the economic recovery in Highland.
‘We encourage any community groups or landowners that may have suitable land to submit an enquiry form to the council’s planning team.’
Councillor Alan Henderson, chairman of the Highland Council’s communities and place committee, said that he believes the initiative will benefit tourism, reduce parking issues and provide a valuable service for motorhome owners.
North Ayrshire Council, which does not share a border with Highland Council, has decided not to follow the lead of its more northerly colleagues and a full planning application would still need to be submitted to set up an Àirigh.
A North Ayrshire Council spokesperson said: ‘The chief planner’s advice to local authorities in light of the Covid-19 outbreak is that action should not be taken against reasonable temporary changes of use during this period which allow for businesses to continue throughout the lockdown – unless it is in the public interest to do so.
‘North Ayrshire Council have applied this advice where appropriate, but each case must be assessed on individual merit and so any material changes to the use of land still require the submission of a planning application.’
The temporary relaxation of planning control for the Highland Council area will be kept under continual review and will remain in place until Friday December 31 2021, or until the requirements for physical distancing have been removed.