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Dun Laoghaire the latest local authority to clampdown on motorhomes

Dun Laoghaire the latest local authority to clampdown on motorhomes

Vanhalla parked up at Dun Laoghaire last week, but not anymore! The local council are introducing a blanket ban on motorhomes and campervans at the popular location via a headroom height restriction barrier from next week.

A popular motorhome park-up location in Dun Laoghaire will be out of bounds to the recreational vehicles from next week, a spokesperson for Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown Council has confirmed. When the erection of height restriction barriers goes into effect the local authority will be the latest across the country to clampdown on parking by campervans and motorhomes.

The prohibition on parking by motorhomes in Dun Laoghaire has been greeted with dismay by motorhome enthusiasts, claiming it is an unnecessarily excessive measure and discriminatory in its enforcement. However, it mirrors similar moves in other locations such as Salthill in Galway, Tramore, Co Waterford, and Howth, where a combination of height restriction barriers and fines penalise and prohibit motorhome parking.

Officials at Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown local authority, while sympathetic to the demand for, and popularity of motorhome tourism, insist they have no option but to introduce the impediment to motorhome parking to protect the car park for its primary purpose and ensure safe access to an important slipway utilised by numerous boating and water sports groups.

They say that over the last two years the increasing popularity of motorhomes led to capacity issues at the car park, occasionally blocked the slipway, hampered boats being towed on trailers trying to access the slipway and this was exasperated at weekends, during the summer months and particularly when there were major concerts or sporting events taking place at the Aviva Stadium, the RDS or Croke Park when the car park would be completely taken over by motorhomes. By all accounts it was jammers with motorhomes the week of the Garth Brooks concerts last September.

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The car park is conveniently located in Dun Laoghaire adjacent to the local DART station and cost €4 to park for 24 hours, proving an immensely popular park up base for motorhome owners looking for a safe park up within proximity to the city. Its availability was regularly promoted on numerous motorhome Facebook forums, some which have thousands of followers

Coal Harbour or West Pier Car Park? Confusion reigns!

A spokesperson for Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown confirmed that the ban on motorhome parking at the Coal Harbour Car Park will come into effect before the end of this month (February). They also acknowledged that the measure had also led to a degree of confusion as the car park in question is more commonly called the West Pier Car Park. This is however, entirely incorrect and due to an error in designation on Google Maps, which the Council have endeavoured to correct to no avail.

Harbour Operations Manager with Dun Laoghaire -Rathdown Council, Mr Tim Ryan said, “The functioning of the harbour is our primary purpose, people trying to get boats in the water, boat owners with large trailers unable to manoeuvre due to the restricted space or the slipway being impeded are all concerns, as well as capacity, especially at weekends, during the summer months or when there are concerts at the RDs or elsewhere it is impossible for other users to get access due to the numbers of motorhomes. I one hundred per cent understand why it’s so appealing for motorhome owners and I wish we didn’t have that conflict, but there is the issue of capacity, especially at busy times. The councillors have had motions before the local authority calling for the provision of motorhome facilities.”

While sympathetic, Mr Ryan confirmed that the height restrictions on the car park would come into effect this month.

However, Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown had other options open to them other than what is effectively a blanket ban on motorhome parking.

They could have imposed a more robust enforcement regime on any vehicles causing an impediment to the slipway or overall access instead of a collective punishment which penalises all motorhome users; they could designate a limited number of parking pays in the spacious car park for motorhomes; and they could have held off on installing the headroom barrier until suitable alternative options for motorhomes were provided by the local authority.

The loss of the Dun Laoghaire facility for motorhomes to park-up comes at a time of a renaissance in interest in this pursuit, with new motorhome registrations increasing by 16% between 2020 and 2021.

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Last year a KMPG report for Donegal County Council estimated the value of motorhome tourism to the county at €11.1m per annum, supporting the equivalent of over 400 jobs.

While there are 150 certified campsites which accommodate motorhomes across Ireland, there are twice as many such facilities opting not to register with the official tourism bodies.

In addition, providing services for motorhomes is an increasingly popular off-farm enterprise and revenue stream such as in the immensely popular Ardmore Seaview Motorhome Park, Waterford, Bannow Bay Seaside Farm Motorhome Park, Wexford, and the long-established Apple Farm Mothorhome Park in Cahir, Co Tipperary.

At a time when other public bodies such as Waterways Ireland and Bord Fáilte are exploring ways to exploit the upsurge in motorhome and campervan culture to benefit the indigenous tourism industry, some local authorities such as Dun Laoghaire are busy erecting headroom barriers.

By contrast other councils and communities are embracing the opportunities being presented by visiting motorhome enthusiasts which repeated studies reveal spend about €70 per person each day they stay over in a location. This market is being tapped in to through the provision of excellent and welcoming facilities in places such as Cobh, Sneem, Graigenamanagh, Portumna and Dungarvan.

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More and more pubs offering motorhome facilities

Others in the rural hospitality sector are taking the initiative themselves with over 140 pubs and hostelries in Ireland listed on the Total Motorhome Ireland forum maps as providing park-up facilities and services for motorhomes. The most recent addition to the list of motorhome friendly pubs is Leeches of Wolfhill in rural Co Laois. In neighbouring Co Offaly there is a planning application pending for the provision of motorhome parking and services at a new Gastro Pub at the Lough Boora Inn adjacent to Lough Boora Park.

ShowerPlus a great new idea

ShowerPlus a great new App for motorhome enthusiasts

Reflecting the growing demand for motorhome services, Derry woman, Arlene McAfee has developed a new App detailing facilities such as showers, camping services and waste disposal. ShowerPlus is a great idea, and you can find out more and download from www.showerplus.ie 

It’s not just the Irish motorhome market that is up for grabs as there were never so many ferry connections to the UK and Europe where motorhome tourism is big business. Routes to Britain and the Continent including Cherbourg, Roscoff and Bilbao to and from Ireland more in demand than ever before.

About The Author

John Whelan

John Whelan is a vastly experienced midlands based journalist and editor who has contributed extensively to the country's leading national and regional titles, as well as broadcast outlets. He runs the media services company, Communicate Ireland www.communicateireland.ie. John is a keen camping and campervan enthusiast with an interest in music, culture, heritage and outdoor pursuits. He has written for the Sunday Times, Sunday Independent and the Woman's Way on these topics. He is also an author, and his latest book, The Last Beekeeper, reflects his love of nature, the landscape and our shared responsibility to protect the environment. The Last Beekeeper is available to preview and purchase at www.thelastbeekeeper.ie. Safe travels...

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