Highland Council is temporarily relaxing its planning laws to allow local businesses and community groups to offer overnight stopover points for motorhomes without having to go through the usual planning process. 

The relaxation to encourage the development of aires (or airigh in Gaelic) is designed to mitigate some of the problems the Scottish Highlands experienced last summer when the boom in staycations caused by the pandemic led to many beauty spots becoming overcrowded with campervans.

The rules relaxation is only meant to last until the end of this year or whenever the need for social distancing has been removed.

Landowners are still encouraged to contact the planning department to see if their plans would only be allowed temporarily, or might even fall under existing exemptions.

Councillor Alan Henderson, chair of the council’s communities and place committee, said: “This approach is necessary in Highland to allow us to adapt to the increased popularity of this type of travel and to mitigate the problems experienced in many communities from overnight parking in unsuitable places and congestion caused in ‘beauty spots.”

The council claims it is the first UK council to relax the rules for this reason.