The Campaign for Real Aires (CAMpRA) is calling for support from UK Van Lifers as it continues to promote the benefits of dedicated overnight stopping areas for owners of self-contained campervans.
Aires, frequently seen across Europe, act as short-stay overnight stops – generally between 24 and 48 hours.
CAMpRA has been involved in the setting up of more than 115 aires across the UK in the last year.
Speaking to Van Life Matters, CAMpRA UK managing director Steve Haywood said: “As a vanlifer you may see aires as unnecessary, ‘no use to us as we need places to park long term’ and several members see them as ‘turning our free spots into aires’ that require booking and payment.
“We’re not trying to turn all of our wild spots into Aires, on the contrary.
“We’re trying to preserve our free spots by providing more short overnight stops to reduce the pressure on some of our popular places.”
Over the summer holidays, thousands of Britons travelled around the UK in leisure vehicles, highlighting what CAMpRA describes as a critical of the lack of facilities for campervan and motorhome owners.
The organisation fears that the recent boom in staycations, could soon be reversed with more than 13,500 aires in Europe attracting Van Lifers to better facilities and social acceptance.
Steve suggests the recent rise in ‘no overnight stopping’ signs at destinations across the UK is a direct result of the rise in popularity of campervanning.
“Communities who tolerate a few motorcaravans are now complaining about the numbers, lack of facilities and we are seeing more no overnight parking signs,” he exlained.
CAMpRA promotes the benefits of aires with “no petitions, no confrontation and no complaints” and says increased travel restrictions post Brexit and ongoing uncertainty amid the ongoing pandemic means now’s the time to call for better UK facilities.
Steve added: “Although we would all like them to be free the reality is we have a long way to go before the UK invests in an infrastructure like France, so we have to accept that most aires will incur a charge.
“We also have to accept that whilst CAMpRA promote no booking, most businesses setting up private aires in the UK will want advance notice and booking.”
CAMpRA advises these sites to allow booking on the day of arrival and not more than 24 hours in advance.
Unlike campsites, aires do not allow visitors to set up awnings, tables and chairs and they are not bookable in advance.
The lobby group is calling on councils to install ‘central waste points’ to service several overnight parking areas.
“This is an area that will not only benefit all of us but will help to reassure local communities that if we park up overnight we are not emptying our toilets in the ditch, dunes, sea or anywhere else that we shouldn’t,” Steve adds.
A recently established CAMpRA ‘waste water fund‘, which gives local communities access to funds for the installation of waste points has been widely supported by campervan and motorhome owners.
Have you stopped at a UK aire before? Do you support calls for more of them? Share your comments and experiences below.
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