[Update 14th Aug 2020]
Following many representations Forestry and Land Scotland have reconsidered the decision to stop the trial. It will now continue until later in the year.
This is what they say:
Since our earlier update, FLS has received a great deal of representation asking us to re-consider our position, and continue with the trial beyond August 2020.
It remains the case that we do not wish to hamper the recovery of local campsite businesses. However, it has become apparent that in some parts of Scotland, including some fragile communities in the Highlands and the West, campervan demand continues to exceed site provision.
After careful consideration of these representations - and those from a small number of businesses - we have now decided to continue with the trial until later in 2020.
We will make some adjustments going forwards, in response to what we have learnt to date, and will continue to assess the need for a longer trial in 2021.
[Update 11 Aug 2020]
After running the trial for less than a month, Forestry and Land Scotland have announced that the trial will now be closed at the end of August 2020. We are unsure of the full reasons for this disappointing decision but suspect that it is due to pressure from campsite operators.
This is the official statement:
“The trial allowing overnight stays of motorhomes and campervans at a small selection of our forest car parks has been met with an overwhelming response.
“It has proved to be very popular with campervan visitors and has helped relieve visitor pressures in key locations during the busy holiday season as campsites and caravan grounds have emerged from lockdown and restarted their businesses.
“However, as a tourism partner with a vested interest in the return of the sector to full health, we do not want to forestall the gradual recovery of those related businesses.
“We had no intention of competing with formal sites and all the facilities they offer and in providing stop-over locations for one night only (not campsites or holiday destinations) at a small number of sites, we tried to be mindful of potential local business and community concerns and of practical management requirements.
“Having listened to feedback, we now intend to supplement capacity at a time of increased demand across the sector and then halt the trail at the end of August.
“We have already learned a great deal and hope to reintroduce a trial next season to allow us to further test and evaluate options for overnight parking. Any trial that we run for a more extended period, or any move to implement these measure on a more permanent basis, will be done in consultation with the planning authorities.
“We understand that caravanners and camper-vanners might be disappointed with this change but that they will understand that this will help to strengthen the sector for the long-term benefit of everyone.”
[Our article, published 16th July 2020]
Forestry and Land Scotland has been working, with the approval of the Scottish Government, to open up their car park network for overnight parking for campervans and motorhomes.
The trial is now in operation and for the remainder of 2020, motorhomes and campervans will be allowed to park overnight at a small selection of Scottish Forestry and Land car parks.
Campervans and motorhomes must be fully self-contained with their own toilet facilities as there are no facilities at the car parks.
There is a maximum stay of one night allowed at any one car park.
There is information on the trial, and a map & list of the car parks where overnight stays are allowed, on the Forestry and Land Scotland website here: https://forestryandland.gov.scot/staythenight
This is part of a national trial to help understand the practicalities of offering this visitor experience longer term. The trial will run until the end of December 2020
Early in 2021 they will assess its popularity, the levels of compliance and of course the impact of the trial on participating car parks and the surrounding environs, and any potential issues that might arise during the course of the trial.
All of this will be taken in to consideration when they make their 2021 pre-season decision on whether or not to extend the trial or to make this a permanent opportunity for visitors.