Nobody resident in the Western Isles can have failed to notice the numbers of campervans on the islands' roads this summer. So much so, that this has been raised as a concern with our Member of Parliament (in Westminster). Not all islands have facilities for motorhomes (like waste water disposal), meaning that a potential exists for environmental health problems, it is reported.
I cannot understand the reasoning behind the questions, posed by our MP to the management of Calmac. He asks for the numbers of campervans on ferries to the Western Isles, both on fully booked and not fully booked ferries. I can even less understand the contradiction in terms in stating that campervans are welcome, yet suggesting that the RET tarriff for campervans of between 5 and 8 metres in length cease to be equivalent to a car's. Motorhomes would be subject to the normal (higher) rate for vehicles of 5 metres and over.
It just so happens that I know that serviced accommodation in the islands (B&B, hotels, guest houses) is booked to the rafters this summer; numbers of visitors are apparently up by some 30% on last year. It is therefore to be welcomed that people come, carrying their own roof. It should be up to the local authority to provide service points for motorhomes in the islands (as has happened in Berneray, according to my own observations there 2 weeks ago). Rather than try to discourage people from coming with a motorhome, our MP should press the Comhairle to complete a network of service points, or encourage businesses to rent out motorhomes, negating the need to bring those vehicles on the ferries.
It should be borne in mind that tourism is a mainstay of the islands' economy, accounting for some £50m annually.
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