COMPLAINTS about the ‘takeover’ of campervans in West Cork have been tempered with a welcome for the business they provide.
A discussion at a Western Division meeting of Cork County Council started out fractious after Cllr Karen Coakley (FG) and Cllr Kevin Murphy (FG) complained about people monopolising parking spaces at places such as Lough Hyne and the beach at Garrettstown over the summer.
However, Cllr Sean O’Donovan (FF) and divisional county manager Clodagh Henehan said the staycationers should be welcomed because of the business they provide.
The manager did, however, suggest sending a letter to the motorhome associations requesting that their members be mindful of parking properly and calling on them to respect the environment.
Cllr Paul Hayes (Ind) said he’d seen some parked ‘sideways across entrances’ while Goleen Cllr Ross O’Connell (SD) complained that Barleycove was ‘a complete bottleneck’ at one point.
On the morning of the meeting, he said he drove past at 7am and already the car park was full of motorhomes.
Cllr Murphy described Garrettstown as being ‘a nightmare’ with campervans. ‘They are lining up their vans there all night. There are “no overnight” signs up, but it is not being policed.’
He said they take up 90% of the parking spaces, leaving little room for locals to park.
But Cllr Alan Coleman (Ind) said he wasn’t in favour of ‘putting the boot in’ during the pandemic when people have been advised to staycation.
And Cllr O’Donovan also pointed out that lots of people have invested in campervans. ‘They are spending a lot of money in the locality,’ he added. ‘We can’t tar them all with the same brush.’
Ms Henehan said it was important not to send out the message that they are not welcome. ‘It is a big part of the Wild Atlantic Way, and it is important to recognise that they do bring a lot of benefit to the local economy.’
Meanwhile, as problems with the erosion of the sand dunes at Inchydoney persists, concerns about the preservation of the sand dunes at Barleycove have also been expressed.
Complaints were made online after a large group of campers – 12 or more – moved in one weekend.
‘They’ve also decided the dunes make a handy rubbish tip,’ said one person. There were also calls for the situation to be dealt with assertively ‘to prevent a precedent being set.’
Wild campers urged to leave no trace of their stays
BY BRIAN MOORE
THE National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) is calling on the public to enjoy all that West Cork has to offer, but to respect and protect the natural environment.
This comes following reports, from both locals and visitors, of an increase in the numbers of people ‘wild camping’ and the resulting rubbish and damage to the environment.
‘All members of the public out and about in nature should, at the first instance, make themselves familiar with the ethos of the “Leave No Trace” movement,’ a spokesperson for the NPWS told The Southern Star.
‘Even the smallest impact we make as humans on natural environments can have big consequences. We all have a shared responsibility in leaving no trace and we would urge the public to get behind this movement,’ they added.
The spokesperson also addressed a ticketed event, a ‘mini festival’ that was held in the dunes inside the Special Area of Conservation (SAC) at Long Strand beach outside Clonakilty over the August bank holiday weekend.
Tickets for the ‘event’ cost €40 and permission was not given by either the NPWS, the gardaí or Cork County Council.
‘The gardaí did attend this site and gave instructions for the event to be shut down and fires to be extinguished,’ the NPWS spokesperson said.
‘The NPWS constantly liaises with the gardaí at Clonakilty Garda Station who patrol the site on a regular basis. We also liaise with Cork County Council in relation to the camping activities (as can be seen by the new County Council signs) and many other issues related to the running of this site.
‘Given the secluded nature of the site, camping in the dunes does occur from time to time and most people will leave the site in a tidy manner. The NPWS has recently put up extra signage informing visitors that both camping and the lighting of campfires is prohibited on the dunes. These signs, while highly visible, do not always deter some campers.’