Could Wales introduce an Aires system for motorhomes?

Motorhomes travelling to the popular county of Gwynedd in Wales could be facing a change in rules and parking spots. A surge in visitors to the county, which includes the popular Snowdonia National Park, has forced the local council to consider new measures for its motorhome visitors.

Over 300,000 motorhomes are registered in the UK and now more than ever they are taking to the roads for UK trips, causing a huge demand for overnight parking. The Gwynedd council are now looking to Europe to possibly trial a new model to help ease the influx of their motorhome tourists.

The council wants to communicate with the communities within the county to ensure that they have an understanding of how local residents are affected by the increase of motorhomes.

Here is what the council are asking the residents of Gwynedd:

• “Do you think unauthorised overnight parking of motorhomes and campervans is a problem in your community?”
• “Should there be more stringent legislation and enforcement?”
• “In other European countries such as France, a network of designated overnight parking areas for use by fully self-contained motorhomes (‘Aire’ facility or similar) has been established. Should Gwynedd pilot a series of ‘Aires’ at more urban sites using existing Council car parks or private business?”

Leader of Gwynedd Council Dyfrig Siencyn said: “For a number of years now, we have seen a growth in motorhome ownership across Britain and that pattern has been reflected in motorhome visits to Gwynedd as well.

“With the restrictions of Covid-19 making people less likely to travel to the continent, we have seen an increase over this period as people visit in motorhomes to enjoy Gwynedd’s popular attractions.

“The message of the Council throughout this period has been for people who choose to visit Gwynedd to be careful, plan ahead and treat our communities with respect.

“We know that Gwynedd’s caravan and camping sites have been extremely popular over the past year and do not always meet the needs and travel pattern motorhome owners.

“We are looking at the powers that the Council has to deal with motorhomes as well as considering whether there are any lessons that can be learned from the arrangements in place in some other parts of Britain and in continental Europe.”

The idea of introducing Aires to the UK isn’t a new one, it is a recognised problem that not enough areas for motorhomes exist for the freedom of travel like they do in Europe.

CAMpRA has been campaigning since 2019 for the introduction of Aires, motorhome travel shouldn’t be restricted to a tight plan and rushing off to be somewhere at a certain time. It should be far more relaxed than that, Aires allow you that flexibility.

If Wales can introduce the first UK style Aire this could have a great impact on the rest of the UK, seeing a rapid rise in motorhome staycations.

How do they work? Aires in France have been set up to entice motorhomes in the country and have been hugely popular with motorhomes travelling through Europe. Hence why Gwynedd may well trial a similar model. Aires cost a few pounds for visitors to park their motorhome without any concerns of breaking any parking rules.

Aires are maintained by the local councils regularly and the idea is used in other European counties such as Spain, Germany and Italy.

Aires are also pit stops that allow drivers to rest before embarking on the rest of their journey. However, these areas are not suitable for overnight stays. They have often been targeted for vandalism and theft. It is advised that you don’t risk your motorhome property by parking in these areas at night-time. This also avoids any ordeals and the rigmarole of having to deal with claiming on motorhome insurance whilst on holiday. To make sure you’re best prepared for any claims you may have to make whilst on your travels it is best to make sure you have the best cover possible, especially when you’re abroad.

If a similar system were to be introduced by Gywnedd Council it would be interesting to see how this could be developed.

How it works:

• Aires run on a first-come, first-served basis like a car park. There is no possibility to book in advance.
• However, there are a lot of Aires so there will be a place to park somewhere without the worry of being fined.
• In some places Aires are FREE but can cost around 15 euros per night. Signs on payment meters are very clear what it will cost and works very much like a car park ticket system,
• Most Aires often have services such as fresh water and waste disposal at an additional cost.
• Most Aires don’t have electricity but on occasion, some do, with an extra fee being charged for use.

Introducing such a system in Gwynedd could be very beneficial especially due to its popular attractions. Once an area is full any late coming motorhomes will have to move on to another designated area which would certainly ease rising numbers and illegal parking. Not only could help ease the flow of motorhomes in the country for the local residents it would certainly help visitors to the area. Finding a parking spot for a motorhome is no easy task especially if there is a risk of parking illegally. Having areas in a popular destination where you can park without that hassle will ensure everyone is safe and happy.

Aires could offer safety and assurance as more and more people invest in and hire motorhomes for their holidays. With the UK needing an upturn in the economy, motorhomes and travelling across Britain will certainly help in the recovery after a horrendous 18 months due to the pandemic. Not only could the UK make travelling in the country easier but motorhomes coming in from Europe would be able to take advantage and benefit from a similar system used on the continent. Steeped in history and wonderful sights to see, we really should be doing everything in our power to make Britain open for exploration.