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Edinburgh Live
Edinburgh Live
Marie Sharp

Overnight parking ban at East Lothian coastal sites gets go ahead

An 'experimental' ban on overnight parking in East Lothian's coastal car parks has been given the go ahead in a bid to crackdown on partying visitors.

East Lothian Council's Labour administration cabinet today (Tuesday) approved plans to trial a parking ban at 20 sites including one tiny three space car park at Musselburgh which has been listed on a website as ideal for overnight stays.

The decision means the council will apply for a temporary traffic regulation barring vehicles from parking in its ten beach car parks where people are charged a daily rate of £2.50 to park up as well as a further ten free car parks identified as unsuitable for overnight stays.

READ MORE: Visitors turn East Lothian coastline into giant campsite with thousands of tents

Two of the sites at Belhaven Bay, in Dunbar, and Whitesands, will trial designated bays for motorhomes or campervans which people will be able to prebook through a council-run website as the local authority explores new ways of dealing with increased visitors.

East Lothian has seen a surge in tourists coming to its coastal beaches and countryside since the pandemic but it has led to issues with fires, litter and human waste.

It is estimated around three million people now visit the county's coast every year making it the most visited coastline in Scotland.

But much of the coast is also designated as areas of special interest and concern over the impact of heavy traffic have been raised.

A report to cabinet members said: "Since the beginning of the COVID pandemic coastal car parks in East Lothian have seen a considerable increase in the numbers of vehicles parking overnight associated with visitors camping in and near beach areas and in the car parks.

"This camping activity has caused damage to the biodiversity of this protected area by the lighting of fires and barbecues as well as generating litter, including human waste.

"There has also been an increase in the numbers of camper vans and motorhomes parking overnight at coastal car parks rather than at formal camping locations.

"The council operated car parks do not have the facilities to support camper vans or motorhomes and damage has been caused by the unlawful emptying of chemical toilets."

Among sites included in the ban are Mountjoy, in Musselburgh which has just three spaces and is listed on website park4night as a highly rated free public car park, and Pond Hall, another small local car park, in Port Seton.

Council leader Norman Hampshire backed the move to trial the ban adding it would allow time to assess the impact on surrounding area and look at ways to work in the future.

He said: "We welcome tourism that comes from our coastal areas but need to protect them at the same time.

"We have all seen the abuse that some visitors have caused with overnight partying, litter , fires and broken glass which are left behind."


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