Lairg ‘Aire’ Project
Opportunity to create better campervan infrastructure
Lairg & District Community Initiatives (LDCI) has recently been awarded a design grant from Visit Scotland’s Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund, and from the North Highland Initiative to explore the feasibility of options to develop an ‘Aire’ in Lairg on land adjacent to the Ferrycroft football pitch and next to the land which LDCI holds in trust for the community.
What is an Aire?
An ‘Aire’ is a small parking site with a motorhome waste disposal point where motorhome/ campervan users can responsibly dispose of their chemical waste and fill their tanks up with fresh water. Most sites also have some electric hook up points so that campervans may park overnight for a small fee.
The benefits of having an ‘Aire’ within the village is that it may encourage people to stay for longer (rather than just passing through) and increase business for the shops, petrol station and restaurants.
Why is this needed?
The Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund is designed to support collaborative projects that focus on improving the visitor experience in rural parts of Scotland that are facing damaging pressures on their infrastructure, or negative impacts on communities due to significant increases in visitor numbers.
Over the past few years, and particularly since Covid struck there has been an increase in people visiting the Highlands in campervans. There is not sufficient infrastructure across Sutherland to meet this demand and this has created problems – leading to the irresponsible dumping of waste in the countryside and in waterways, and also in public toilets. This has in fact led to the closure of the public toilets in Lairg due to the pipes being blocked. It has also been reported that waste has been tipped into little Loch Shin by the slipway, and that a motorhome entered the cemetery to fill up with water from the tap there.
For a number of years now, people have been choosing to ‘wild camp’ close to Ferrycroft and little Loch Shin. By providing formal, regulated facilities for motorhomes, we hope that the problems we have seen recently can be avoided.
Please note that LDCI initially checked with Dunroamin Campsite to ask if they would allow the disposal of waste at their site, however, they are not accepting touring campers and the site is for static caravans only.
The nearest campsite that accepts waste is Woodend Caravan and Camping site which is five miles north of Lairg. Falls of Shin Visitor Attraction which is about five miles south of Lairg currently operates an ‘Aire’ style facility which is full almost every night. LDCI aims to work with these other local operators as well as Pondside Campsite to promote these sites so that visitors new to the area are aware of the other options available.
Please note that the Lairg Aires project is in early development stage and no further funding has been confirmed yet. Following completion of the design stage of the project, LDCI in partnership with the Highland Council has submitted a Stage 2 application to the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund. We will continue to keep the community informed as the project progresses and if the application is successful.
Lairg and District Community Initiatives
Schoolhouse, Main Street, Lairg, IV27 4DD