Petition Introduce a free ‘Aire’ French style camping system in Jersey for locals.

Would you support a 'Aire' style system like the French? Allowing local people to camp in designated areas for up to 48hrs. Giving people the freedom to camp in Jersey would dramatically improve the lives of local people especially families who live in built up areas and on a tight budget.

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As it stands you are only allowed to camp in certified campsites therefore you are breaking the law even if you camp on your own property. The only place in Jersey you can free camp is Le Port where the authorities have made concessions on this outdated law. I am calling for a change in the law so other Parishes can welcome local people who wish to take their families free camping and dramatically improve the lives of people especially young families living in built-up areas.

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Ministers responded

This response was given on 26 September 2018

Enjoying Jersey’s coast and countryside is part of island life but needs management to protect its qualities. A review of short-stay camping regulation is required to see how best to manage it.

Read the response in full

Being able to enjoy the special qualities of Jersey’s coast and countryside is part of what makes the island a great place to live and visit.

Access to the island’s special places, however, needs management to ensure that the qualities that make them special are not damaged or lost, and so that everyone can continue to enjoy them.

The current regulation of camping and the use of motorhomes has its origins in tourism and the regulation of housing accommodation: it was not specifically designed to manage short-stay camping in the island.

Outside of designated campsites free-camping in vehicles designed or adapted for human habitation anywhere in Jersey, including Le Port, is presently unauthorised.

The petition refers to the French system of ‘aires’: to be clear, these are not free camping areas but motorhome stopovers which, whilst often free, allow motorhomes to park overnight. There are terms and conditions attached to their use, where vehicles must be ‘self-sufficient’ motorhomes (which might include campervans, Dormobiles, Winnebagos, American RVs, and motorcaravans), with their own waste, water, cooking and sleeping facilities within the vehicle, and not just a van with a mattress in the back. Camping is strictly prohibited, which means no winding out of awnings; setting out of tables and chairs; and no erecting of tents. For the avoidance of doubt, it is assumed that, given this definition, the petition is not seeking to establish motorhome stopover areas or ‘aires’, but instead, is proposing the establishment of free camping areas, where people can camp overnight in vehicles designed or adapted for human habitation.

Regulatory framework
The protection of Jersey’s coast and countryside is a key principle of the planning system: it has sought to regulate various forms of tourist accommodation, including short-stay camping involving caravans; motorhomes or tents, with this as the main objective.

Any vehicle or structure capable of being moved from place to place, that is designed or adapted for human habitation requires a permit under planning law. The conditions attached to the use of caravans and motorhomes differs if being brought into the island for a short period by a visitor; or owned or used by a resident.

Visitors can only bring a motorhome or caravan into the island for 31 days and stay at a designated campsite: at Beuvelande; Rozel Camping Site; and the Jersey Accommodation and Activity Centre, all in St. Martin; Daisy Cottage Campsite in St. Ouen; or Hideaway Motorhome Stopover in St. Peter. Whilst visitors’ motorhomes may be driven around, they must return to their designated campsite each night.

For islanders, who own or use a motorhome or caravan in the island, the following conditions apply:

• the vehicle or motor caravan is not to be used for any habitable purposes; and
• trailer caravans are kept out of public sight, within a building.

Campsites require planning permission and proposals for new ones are assessed against Island Plan policies. Proposals in the Green Zone or Coastal National Park (i.e. much of the coast and the countryside) need to ensure that they do not harm or seriously harm the landscape character of the area.

Whilst planning permission is required for the establishment of a campsite, the island’s planning law does not regulate the incidental use of tents, except where camping might adversely affect the special interest of a designated site, such as a Site of Special Interest. Planning permission would be required to use a site for camping in tents where the frequency and intensity of that use resulted in a material change in the use of the land; and where the siting of any moveable structure, including a tent, caravan or other conveyance, remains on the same land for more than 28 days in any 12 month period.

Where business provides ‘lodging for reward’ for six or more people in Jersey, they need to be registered under tourism legislation. This ensures that ‘lodging places’, including campsites, are fit for purpose, and have a supply of water and appropriate waste facilities.

And whilst not directly related to the regulation of short-stay camping accommodation, highways legislation prohibits sleeping in a vehicle that is parked in a designated public parking place. Similarly, parks regulations prohibit activities which might interfere with their enjoyment by other park users; designated parks include areas such as parts of St. Ouen’s Bay.

In addition to the regulatory framework set out above, the use of land for camping requires the consent of the landowner.

Existing regulation
Existing regulation has been successful in protecting the island’s coast and countryside from the adverse visual impact of holiday caravan parks and sites, whilst allowing visitors to camp, in a tent, caravan or motorhome on designated sites.

Enforcement against sleeping in vehicles overnight, whilst not their specific responsibility, is currently undertaken by the island’s honorary police forces.

What is now evident is an increasing demand for short-stay camping outside designated sites, such as that in evidence over the summer at Le Port, which is unauthorised.

Issues
Whilst there is a demand for short-term camping using vehicles designed or adapted for this purpose, this activity has an impact upon the local environment and its enjoyment by the wider community. Jersey’s Coastal National Park, for example, seeks to promote access and enjoyment, but it also seeks to ensure conservation and enhancement of its natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage. The unauthorised use of land at Le Port is having an adverse impact upon this sensitive environment and needs to be managed.

The current system of regulation was not designed to deal with a local demand for short-stay camping outside of designated camp sites. The relevant legislation would require review to determine how best to manage this activity.

Similarly, the potential cost implications of servicing designated short-term camping sites, were they to be permitted at sites around the island, would require consideration.

Next steps
Relevant ministers and connétables will meet to discuss how the demand for short-term camping in St. Ouen’s Bay is best managed in time for next summer.

Consideration will also be given to the necessity and capacity to;

• review the current regulatory framework for short-stay camping in the island to see how this might be best regulated and managed; and
• consider how and where sites could be provided; and at what cost.

Any proposals will be developed with stakeholder and community engagement.

Minister for the Environment

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