A delayed pilot scheme that would see the creation of sites for campervans and motorhomes with paid-for permits could now be launching this spring.
According to a Government spokesperson, the delay in getting the scheme started was caused by the creation of an online booking portal.
Officers within Infrastructure, Housing and Environment (IHE) are now undertaking “technical work” to set up an online booking system for a launch this spring.
The news comes nearly three years after 12-hour parking restrictions were introduced at Le Port, a site favoured by coastal campers who had created “a little community” down there.
Pictured: 12-hour parking restrictions were introduced at Le Port in February 2019.
At the time, Infrastructure Minister Deputy Kevin Lewis said that parking would be restricted to a maximum of 12 hours in any continuous 24-hour period in order “to deter vehicles from being left overnight or longer, and to create more spaces for islanders to use the beach and nearby facilities.”
Although camping or sleeping in a vehicle parked on public land is illegal, people have been camping at Le Port since the Parish of St. Peter agreed to make concessions in 2014. However, the Infrastructure Minister said that in recent years the popularity of camping in the area had grown to the point where “the activities of some campers are causing problems for the honorary police at night.”
Meanwhile, St. Peter’s Constable, Richard Vibert, told Express that the decision had been made following a number of complaints of “anti-social behaviour” around Le Port. He also said that the sand dunes had been used as “some sort of toilet” and that it was particularly unpleasant close to Le Port
“We were met with issues where people didn’t want to cooperate,” Mr Vibert said. “We had to find some method to bring order. You can’t have an area that is being monopolised to the extent that some islanders are being intimidated.”
Pictured: Senator Steve Pallett's proposal to create a regulated scheme was approved by the States Assembly.
The decision received pushback from coastal campers who used Le Port regularly as well as from politicians. In March 2019, Senator Steve Pallett made a push to remove the restrictions and proposed to regulate island-wide camping.
He eventually withdrew his bid to scrap the restrictions and the States Assembly voted in favour of creating a list of designated spots for campervanners as well as rules for a permit system.
In September 2020, however, a camping ban was introduced at Le Port following persistent complaints about noise, fires, litter and drinking.
The move, which saw parking at the popular spot in St Ouen’s Bay becoming illegal from 23:00 to 05:00, only served to highlight the need for the scheme States Members had voted on, according to Paul Hymas, who has been campaigning for regulated areas for motorhomes around the island since 2018.
“Politicians agreed in May 2019 to come up with a list of designated areas for motorhome use but since then we have seen zero progress,” he said. “All this ban does is move the problem on elsewhere.
“The Constable of St. Peter had already said he’d be happy to allow 20 campers at Le Port and the Constables of St. Ouen, St. Brelade and St. Mary have said that they’d be willing to find sites. But they say that they’re waiting for the sign off from the Environment and Infrastructure Ministers.
“But when you ask them, they say they’re waiting for the Constables. They all seem very good at passing the buck."
Pictured: A pilot scheme was due to be launched last year.
In April 2021, Deputy Lewis and officers from the Infrastructure, Housing and Environment (IHE) department presented proposals for an overnight motorhome and campervan permit scheme to the Comité des Connétables.
A pilot scheme and a consultation were then due to be launched at the end of July 2021. Express has asked what caused the delay but was simply told that officers “had been working on the technical aspect of setting up the booking portal”.
According to the minutes from the Comité des Connétables’ meeting, the scheme considered at the time would only be open to islanders with personal campervan or motorhomes which are registered with Driver and Vehicle Standards (DVS).
It will be limited to designated sites, each of which will have a limited number of spaces available.
To stay overnight on these sites, islanders will have to book their stay on the same day via the Planning Department web site.
They will also have to apply for an annual permit and pay a fee. The permits will have to be displayed in the vehicle window and would be subject to conditions; any breach of which would result in the permit being cancelled.
A number of potential sites had already been identified and assessed for feasibility, and all are located in car parks where there is currently a ’12 in 24 hour’ parking restriction.
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