Does the NC500 need a campervan congestion charge before next summer?

Some feel the new camper congestion has become problematic in certain areas

By Emma Dodd

Staycations rocketed this summer and the predictions for 2021 are that everyone is still going to be holidaying at home, so do we need to do something about some of the bad behaviour that has been displayed?

Several councillors in the north of Scotland think so, after littering became a problem along parts of the iconic North Coast 500 (NC500) road this summer.

Margaret Meek, community councillor for Kinlochbervie, set up the NC500 The Land Weeps Facebook group after caravanners and campers left rubbish behind in the picture-perfect landscape.

Now, Liberal Democrat Jamie Stone, who represents Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, has suggested a congestion charge should be implemented on the route.

He added that campervan owners who want to visit the area should have the charge levied upon them and the money should be invested in improving the region’s roads.

“The Scottish government needs to know the full force of our concerns about the NC500 roads and the impact that irresponsible tourists are having on us all. I’ve always supported our local tourism and hospitality industries, but we need some fairness!” he said.

With the news that caravan parks are already starting to fill up with bookings for next year, it seems likely that summer 2021 will be another year of record staycations.

The 516-mile coastal road, which has become known as Scotland’s answer to Route 66, is likely to be popular again next summer, but more needs to be done to ensure the countryside does not pay the price.

Most caravanners are respectful and leave no trace, but with an increase in the number of visitors, locals have noticed problems.

Whether a congestion charge is the answer, or if another strategy needs to be found, it’s up to the residents and local authorities along the route to decide.