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Motorhome waste disposal facilities being considered at north Norfolk public toilets

Motorhome waste disposal

Motorhome waste disposal facilities could soon be installed at existing public loos and county-run recycling centres in north Norfolk.

It comes after councillors called for urgent solutions to stop campervans dumping waste.

While councillors supported new waste disposal facilities, concerns were raised that it would not be delivered in time for this summer, with recommendations needing to go before the council’s cabinet which will now not meet until September.

Democratic services officer Matt Stembrowicz said separate work was being conducted looking for government levelling up cash to fund the work.

He said: “Even if the recommendation was accepted by cabinet tomorrow the chance of getting those waste disposal facilities in place this summer is limited.”

Victoria Holliday, Conservative councillor for the coastal ward, warned that the levelling up funding was not yet a certainty and called for speedy solutions to address the issue this year.

Ms Holliday suggested officers look to put in place portable waste collection or work with commercial campsites to see if they will take non-resident waste, which was already happening at some campsites, including one at Stiffkey.

She said: “We have ditches on the coast being polluted with campervan waste and it’s totally unacceptable.”

While the committee supported looking into quicker measures for this year, Paul Heinrich, Liberal Democrat councillor for North Walsham East, pointed out that wild camping is illegal in England.

He said: “These vans that dump their waste in our loos are in breach of the law anyway perhaps we ought to be asking the police to be a little more vigilant.

“There are already facilities, they are on the campsites. They are not hugely expensive.

“If you can afford £45,000 minimum for a campervan you can afford a site.

“People really should be encouraged to do so.”

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4 comments

Alan Buzzard August 2, 2023 at 12:26 pm

To the badly informed Mr Heinrich, it has nothing to do with the cost of the vehicle or being able to afford the cost of a campsite a motorhome and many campervans are fully self contained regarding water & waste and need to be emptied/refilled every 3-4 days, we would prefer to stay in or very close to towns as campsites are usually well out of towns, we don’t need all the facilities a campsite offers but we have to pay for them anyway and many have a minimum stay of 2-3 nights and the flexibility of a motorhome/campervan suits those who just want to overnight somewhere safe, visit a nice place and spend money on food, drinks, shopping etc locally not an anonymous holiday park.
If waste facilities were provided at a modest cost(£5) for empty/refills the cost would be recovered very quickly especially if vans were allowed to overnight in car parks that are invariably empty overnight, again extra income for cash strapped councils and it is shown to reduce anti social behaviour.
Information to back up my post can be found on the Campaign for real Aires (CAMpRA) website, who will answer any queries you may have.

Reply
Charles Shelbourne August 2, 2023 at 7:17 pm

I agree; motorhomes and campervans differ from caravans and tent campers in that they can stop in any level parking space, at any public car park (most are nearly empty night-times), and private parking areas (visitor attractions, sports centres, garden centres, village halls, pubs, farm shops, etc) without the need for toilets, and showers as they carry onboard water and waste storage tanks, which only need to be serviced every 3-4 days.
They don’t need to be in ‘camping’ mode (with chairs, tables, windbreaks, awnings outside – that’s for camping sites), they are usually happy to be close to hospitality and tourism businesses so they can taste the local culture and cuisine as they pass through, on tour.
Service Points are what are desperately needed as many campsites are closed half the year – October to Easter – and that’s where Service Points are currently located. Businesses that can cash in on passing motorhomes are fuel stations and car wash businesses – they really need shaking to the value of Motorhome Tourism; they could earn £5/time self service just by connecting their plumbing to outside water and waste pipes.
Bringing the UK up to European levels of provision could bring up to 2 million foreign motorhomers who are keen to tour historic UK but don’t due to high campsite costs and lack of facilities. They don’t like the idea of paying for a club membership either.
So getting public toilet blocks converted to provide MH Services is a great step forward.
I’m with CAMpRA and have been working on an East Anglia Motorhome Tour Route. We need many more service points – one in each main town would do nicely

Reply
Paul Simpson August 9, 2023 at 11:47 am

On reading Cllr Heinrick’s comments in the original 22nd July 2022 story, I emailed Him.

The Majority of motorhome owners, (including myself) are decent people. We know there is a ‘section of bad apples’ amongst the motorhome community, who believe they are a law onto themselves, and will do as they want. The vast majority of us condemn them wholeheartedly, as their actions are the actions that will persuade Council’s to decide NOT to provide us Aires,with basic facilities -(fresh water, Grey waste and Chemical toilet waste ), or allow us to park in carparks overnight, (even for a small £5 fee) that would allow us to embrace town or village nightlife, then sleep in our motorhomes, and then move on to another location.

The majority of us will use a campsite if and when necessary. (mainly because Council’s are not providing Aires.
Campsites are expensive, as they have full on facilities for families who stay there. (There are 61 campsites across GB, that allow ‘Passing Campervans & Motorhomes’ to avail of their facilities for a small fee, These are listed on searchforsites.co.uk).

This is the type of work CAMpRA http://www.campra.org.uk has been working over the past two years with Council’s and others to provide services& facilities for the touring motorhome community. ( I suggest you look at our website and see the good work we are doing for our community).

Europe is far ahead of the UK & Ireland in providing simple services, (Many towns have at least one or two Aire facilities in their towns.

Just last month in Spain, it was reported;

As of 11th July 2023, the General Directive of Traffic (DGT) changed its regulations to clarify the difference between what is considered parking and what it classes as camping once and for all.

Essentially, th DGT has no problem with motorhomes stopping on public roads or in car parks once they dont take up any additional space or create any noise. In this way, they are treated by the traffic authorities exactly the same as cars or other vehicles.

As of 11th July 2023
, the DGT accepts that parking is not camping. Motorhomes are free to park like any car under these requirements (PROT Instruction 2023/14):

IF the vehicle, with the engines topped, is only in contact with the ground through the wheels (the stabilising legs or any other devices are not used, except for the chocks, provided for by the Traffic Regulations).
The vehicle does not occupy more surface area than it does when closed, that is, without the deployment of projectable elements, chairs, tables etc.

It is sad to say, whilst we are now out of the EU and Brexit is part of our daily lives, we all could learn a thing or two, from how our European neighbours treat their Campervan and Motorhome visitors.

This was his response :

Dear Mr Simpson,

I would not normally reply to emails of this nature, especially ones originating from outside North Norfolk . However, I would wish to make some things clear.

I am certainly not anti caravans and motorhomes having been a member of CAMC for over 30 years. I thus consider that I have a good insight into the needs of the sector and have supported improvements to sites as they come before our planning committee.

North Norfolk is well provided for as regards full service CAMC, CCC and commercial caravan and motorhome sites together with a large number of Certificated Locations together with seasonal sites operating under ther 28 day rule. There is therefore no need for camper vans in particular NOT to use a proper site that has the correct waste disposal services.

I think that we can agree that there is, unfortunately, a small group of irresponsible van owners – they seem to appear regularly in Internet forums and on Youtube as ‘van life’ advocates bragging about how they get away with parking up in isolated spots, quiet coastal car parks etc and getting away with it. Perhaps it is up to the responsible part of the caravan and motorhome community to shame thse people.

On the issue of overnight use of car parks there is no intention to change the current rules banning overnight sleeping/camping – these are car parks NOT camp sites and are unsuitable even for temporary use as such. Most are within towns or in the centre of a village with very few on the coast itself or isolated from settlement. not all have public toilets and indeed many toilets are locked closed at 6 pm.

Finally, why should my council tax payers fund the provision of waste disposal facilities for motor vans? That is not to say that provision has not been considered but in most car parks where toilets are available this is simply not feasible at any acceptable cost – either there is no adjacent parking space for larger vehicles or no space to provide a black waste disposal point that is properly enclosed. Some public toilets in more remote coastal areas drain to septic tanks and in one case is of the composting type. Thus there are significant issues and the costs simply cannot be justified, especially when proper sites are readily available and CLs in particular do not cost very much.

It is of course open to e.g. CAMC and CCC to bring proposals to the Council should they wish to do so. We are always open to dialogue. Any such proposals should be directed to the Chief Executive rather than to myself.
I trust that you now have a better understanding of the position in North Norfolk. I therefore consider this correspondence closed.

Yours sincerely

Paul Heinrich

Cllr Paul Heinrich

North Walsham East

Portfolio Holder for Sustainable Growth and Chairman of the Development Committee

Reply
Alan Buzzard August 9, 2023 at 2:17 pm

A typical blinkered response from someone who believes he is in touch with campervan requirements!
Many Motorhome/campervan owners travel all year round providing out of season income to many areas, most camp sites are seasonal so facilities are only accessible from Easter to Oct.
A black waste unit (CDP) costs a few hundred pounds and doesn’t need motorhome parking next to the toilet as the cassette is removable and the grey(washing up water) can be emptied in a bowl/bucket.
Perhaps local businesses should be contacted and shown how much income motorhome tourism contribute and how short sighted elected officials are stifling this income with this type of attitude.

Reply

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