'Motorhome invasion' claim as council unveils overnight parking and wild camping crackdown in East Lothian

A ban on overnight parking in coastal car parks and tougher action on ‘wild camping’ are among plans to combat increasing visitor numbers in East Lothian.

Wild campers flock to Yellowcraig Beach for stunning sunsets like this

Council bosses have launched a Land Management Review after a year in which record numbers of tourists descended on beauty spots.

Among proposals being put forward are the creation of a new park exclusively for motorhomes at Barns Ness and a complete ban on overnight stays at coastal car parks.

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There are also proposals to extend the parking charges programme to include two currently exempt car parks – at Back Sands and Levenhall Links, Musselburgh – and introduce overflow car parks at popular sites.

Thousands flock each summer to Tyninghame

The proposals come after an unprecedented number of visitors were seen in East Lothian during the pandemic last year with numbers estimated at 4million – 30 per cent more than in a normal year.

A report describes a “motorhome invasion” in the summer with parking bays taken up.

And it said July 12 was the busiest day in 40 years, according to East Lothian’s countryside rangers service.

Coastal car parks overflowed with people parking illegally on access roads and ‘wild camping’ incidents regularly saw groups of 50 tents gathered at any given site.

The report said it was only face to face engagement with visitors by countryside rangers which helped the county avoid many of the dirty camping issues other Scottish beauty spots experienced but there were still issues with indiscriminate toileting and litter as well as fires causing damage to woodlands.

Between June and August, 1,871 tents and motorhomes were recorded in the coastal car parks.

The report said: “The number of tents at both Yellowcraig and Tyninghame was particularly high and the most affected compared to other coastal sites, with one weekend recording 93 tents at Tyninghame and 37 tents at Yellowcraig.

“Associated issues were fire damage to the SSSI grassland and dune habitats, irresponsible toileting, tree damage by those scavenging for wood and generally camping out with the guidance with the Scottish Outdoor Access Code, to the inconvenience of other users or detriment oftheir experience with coastal sites.

“New camping information signage was installed although high levels of camping and fire sites persisted.”

The proposed changes to car parking rules would mean motorhomes would be unable to use any coastal car parks overnight and would be directed to the new park.

The report revealed: “The council is in talks with Tarmac for Barns Ness to be a potential site specifically designated for motorhomes.

"In relation to existing coastal car park provision, it is proposed to ban overnight parking, and control through a twilight parking enforcement service in the evenings and overnight.

“In this way, motorhome and campers can be directed to purpose-built accommodation. This will ensure that the coastal car parks which have been established as a resource will enable locals and visitors to enjoy the coast as opposed to being motorhome sites.

“A ban of overnight parking will effectively close the car parks for vehicle use and prohibit any vehicle from staying overnight ”

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