Proposals to ban for 'wild camping' for motorhomes put to Government

Screenshot from video showing the Esplanade in Woolacombe full of camper vans and motorhomes

Screenshot from video showing the Esplanade in Woolacombe full of camper vans and motorhomes - Credit: Mortehoe Parish Council

A parish council in North Devon has written to the Government asking it to ban ‘wild camping’ from motorhome and camper van users. 

Mortehoe Parish Council, which has within its boundaries one of the most popular beaches in the country, Woolacombe Beach, is urging the authorities to change the legislation so that campers, camper vans, caravans and motorhomes must use existing registered and approved camping and overnight areas for overnight stays. 

It follows an increasing number of visitors to the parish who are parking up by the side of roads or in ordinary parking spaces and spending the night, or camping for three or four nights or longer. 

In a letter to Boris Johnson, the parish council said that because there is often a lack of proper drainage or sanitation, subsequent visitors to these spots are, unknowingly, often walking through, sitting in, or playing in areas contaminated by the effluent and waste from the unauthorised overnight visitors. 

Councillor Don Duffield, chairman of the parish council, said: “Over the years there has been considerable abuse of the area by so called ‘wild campers’, on private land and also on the highway. One particular concern at present is the Esplanade at Woolacombe, where ever increasing numbers are staying overnight, in spite of there being signage indicating No Overnight parking from midnight to 6am. 


You may also want to watch:


“Last year brought this to a head, when with the public toilets closed, it was blatantly obvious that these campers were carrying out their ablutions on the grass or in the bushes, and disposing of their other waste randomly, with no concern to the local area. 

“We have no problem with visitors to the area – in fact the whole village encourages them – but in the proper place namely the number of camp sites that there are in the local vicinity.” 

Most Read

The letter to the Prime Minister added: “Woolacombe Beach is a magnificent space frequented by hundreds of thousands of people each year. Many of these visitors have their own camper vans or motorhomes and the majority make good use of the variety of campsites and holiday parks which we have close by. 

“However, an increasing number are now just parking up by the side of normal roads or in ordinary parking spaces and spending the night, or camping for three or four nights or longer, in these areas without proper drainage or sanitation. Subsequent visitors to these spots are, unknowingly, often walking through, sitting in, or playing in areas contaminated by the effluent and waste from these unauthorised overnight visitors. 

“We know that our area has a role to play in the physical and mental rehabilitation of the wider population, but we are hugely concerned that, as the whole country seeks to control the transmission of the Covid-19 virus by following the guidance from The Government and the NHS, ‘free’ or ‘wild’ camping, or unregulated overnight stays, are going directly against the science and common sense. 

“We would like you, SAGE and The Government as a whole to place within your future regulation associated with the pandemic, a simple requirement that campers, camper vans, caravans and motorhomes must use existing registered and approved camping and overnight areas for overnight stays.” 

Cllr Duffield added: “Any popular tourist destination will soon have its visitor numbers massively swelled once the right to travel further away from home is restored. At the moment, it would be a relatively easy matter to include the simple requirement: that campers, camper vans, caravans and motorhomes must use existing registered and approved camping and overnight areas for overnight stays. 

“To do nothing is simply to create a much more complicated situation which will, inevitably, be more costly, both financially and in terms of the time demands on the police and other enforcement authorities. Be assured, that this is a national issue, and once the travel genie is allowed out of its bottle there will be no easy return.” 

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter