A range of measures are under consideration to help people continue enjoying East Lothian’s coast and countryside safely and responsibly.

Last summer saw record numbers of visitors attracted to the county’s beauty spots. This followed the easing of ‘lockdown’ restrictions in Scotland at a time when fewer people were travelling overseas for holidays. The increase in visits resulted in some challenges associated with traffic issues, parking and camping.

Most of East Lothian’s coastline, which is believed to be Scotland’s busiest in terms of visits per kilometre, is subject to national, European and international designations to protect natural heritage. 

At the Council meeting of 27 October 2020, a Motion was approved which required the development of new policies and approaches to address problems and ensure land available to the public remains accessible, well maintained and is not used irresponsibly.

Land Management Rules consultation

A consultation on Land Management Rules is now underway. Under Section 112 of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982, the Council is proposing rules to promote the responsible use of countryside, parks, nature reserves and greenspace. The outcome of this will inform a report to Cabinet setting out specific proposals for Land Management Rules and future.

The consultation, which runs until March 1, can be found on the Council’s Consultation Hub.

Additional approaches

Separately, a multi-agency group has been looking at additional approaches to assist in resolving challenges experienced in 2020 including managing vehicles, motorhomes and camping more effectively. While this work remains ongoing, a new report to Elected Members sets out emerging actions.

The Council is proposing to commence the statutory process to introduce ‘no waiting’ restrictions on a stretch of the B1348 between Seton Sands and Dean Road, Longniddry. It is also proposing to introduce ‘no waiting’ restrictions on a stretch of the B1348 between Dean Road and Lyars Road, Longniddry. This follows an increase in parking on this tight and twisty section of the coast road to improve safety, with official coastal car parking being available nearby.

The Council is also proposing to introduce an experimental Traffic Regulation Order, subject to Cabinet Approval in due course, to ban overnight parking activity at coastal car parking sites. It is proposed that an additional two parking attendants will be recruited on a two-year, fixed term basis.

Other actions under consideration include:

  • Looking at options to create new designated sites for motorhomes along the coast
  • Considering parking arrangements for campervans and motorhomes as part of a wider East Lothian parking management review
  • Upgrading the facilities for overflow car parking at Gullane Links and Yellowcraig to manage increased demand during the summer months

Additional approaches to assist in resolving challenges faced during 2020 including managing vehicles will be brought forward by Road Services detailing specific proposals for coastal car parks to the Cabinet for approval in due course.

Tom Reid, Head of Infrastructure, said:

“We want everyone – local residents and visitors alike – to continue enjoying East Lothian’s picturesque scenery and wonderful open space.

“Tourism is a huge part of the local economy and, when it is safe to do so, visitors from elsewhere will be assured of a warm welcome at our fantastic attractions and businesses.

“When COVID-19 restrictions were eased last Summer, we saw a huge increase in the number of people visiting our beauty spots. 

“While the vast majority of people respect the local environment we did experience some challenges last summer, which was a matter of concern to our communities.

“That’s why we are looking at bringing forward new measures – some of which remain proposals – to ensure East Lothian remains a great place to enjoy the great outdoors whilst managing the issues which can arise, particularly in periods of good weather.”

Published: Friday, 29th January 2021