Residents feel 'driven out' by North Coast 500

People living on the North Coast 500 tourist route want to move house because the area has become so busy, a study has found.
Glen Docherty on the North Coast 500. PIC: Contributed.Glen Docherty on the North Coast 500. PIC: Contributed.
Glen Docherty on the North Coast 500. PIC: Contributed.

Increased traffic has also led to congestion with some locals claiming it has hampered their enjoyment of the outdoors, according to a report in The Times.

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The views have been shared with researchers at Stirling University who are assessing the impact of the route which links Inverness to Black Isle, Caithness, Sutherland and Wester Ross.

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North Coast 500, which is often compared to America’s Route 66, has brought at least 29,000 extra visitors to the Highlands and boosted the local economy by £9m since it launched in 2015.

However, residents are feeling the impact of the new tourist draw.

Lead researcher Gary Woodcock, an expert in sustainable tourism at Stirling University, told the newspaper: “I would agree with those who say it is either a road paved with gold or a highway to hell.

“A lot of people are saying the NC500 is affecting their enjoyment and access to the outdoors. I was staggered at the number who said they had withdrawn as a result of the increased tourism, even to the extent of wanting to move.

“Those who have withdrawn to some extend has amounted to between 15 and 20 per cent so far.”

More than 250 people have contributed their experiences of the NC500 so far with full results to be published in August.

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Some residents claimed people had tried to set speed records on certain stretches of the road, The Times reported.

A campaign was launched earlier this year to reduce rubbish on the route. Dozens of businesses and attractions have handed out special “car litter bags” to motorists following concerns over increased litter.