Do you enjoy spending time off-grid with your motorhome or campervan? What have you heard about ‘Motorhome Wild Camping Bill’ And what will happen if the law changes? Here’s what you need to know about the rules of wild camping in a van in the UK.
Don’t forget to catch yours Free motorhome wild camping checklist here To help set up your van for the night without electricity or facilities.
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If you’ve been following our adventures across the UK and Europe for a while, you’ll know that we love wild camping with our motorhomes.
We are able to enjoy beautiful spots without being destroyed by noisy campsites and without the frenzy of booking a campsite 3 months in advance. Heck, I don’t even know what I’m preparing for dinner tonight- don’t ask me where we’ll be in 3 months!
Whether I call it motorhome wild camping, wild park ups, off-grid parking or any other variation, what we are talking about is spending the night somewhere in the UK without any official booking or payment.
UK Motorhome Wild Camping- Uncomfortable truth
Our first wild camping with our motorhome was in Scotland a few years ago and we were scared. We have all made mistakes and are in some ridiculous places but after so much we have fallen in love with freedom. Since then we have done wild camps all over Europe and the UK, including some incredible places in Wales.
However, the uncomfortable fact is that wild camping with your motorhome in the UK Not a legal right (Like if you are motorhomeing in Norway or some other country.)
Yes, even in Scotland (where there are some rights to wild camping with a tent), where some people get confused. You can read more about the law of wild camping in Scotland here.
However, the crime of infringement at the moment is only a civil offense and can do nothing but tell the police (which you absolutely should) to go ahead.
Free overnight motorhome parking – current UK law
This is the law like now. Most of us know that national parks do not tolerate wild camping, and most coastal places do not allow it. And no, that doesn’t include places like field campsites, or Brit stops or car parks where you can pay for an overnight stay – they are allowed because the landlord has given permission for it. (If you want to know how to set up your van for off-grid parking, here’s what you need – and what you don’t have!)
We have always tried to choose as many places as possible from civilization or the sea coast. Also, when we visited popular places like Cornwall or NC500 with our motorhome, we made a booking on a campsite.
Of course, we camped wildly next to Stonehenge for the night – but security came and had coffee with us – they didn’t care. And that’s the key. If no one pays attention, and you don’t leave a mark, that shouldn’t be a problem.
But this is not a right. You may be asked to proceed at any time.
Also, if the owners refuse to move even after asking, the police may already seize a vehicle. Under the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, the police have already been given the power to seize in case of non-compliance with the instructions of the police to leave the land. What they are doing now is giving them the power that the bill is making it a criminal offense.
Which brings us to this bill and the reasons behind it.
I made a video about the PCSC bill and how it could affect motorhome wildcling in the UK. You can see it here: (If you don’t want to see it now, you can get the information in the form below)
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A new bill is currently in Parliament, called the Police, Crime, Punishment and Court Bill. Now, this bill is 300 pages long and I’m not a lawyer, however One of the things it focuses on is moving the crime rate from civil to criminal.
And to do that effectively, they want to introduce harsher penalties for breaking the law and increase the power of the police and other agencies if they cause problems for landowners.
A lot of landowners don’t care if you’re smart somewhere overnight, picks after your own, and doesn’t empty all your waste into haze. However, we’ve all read the horrible headlines in the last 18 months where a small minority of landowners or the environment are doing damage and vandalism without any thought – and to be honest, I can’t blame landowners for being upset and asking for more. .
There have been several petitions calling on the government to withdraw or amend the bill. Now the largest one has more than 50,000 signatures and that is why the government has been asked to respond, which was received on July 26, 2021.
In it, the government clearly states that: “Those who live on the land in vehicles who do not cause significant damage will not be caught by the new crime.”
Just like now, you will just be told to move on. And if you comply, there is no problem or charge to buy against you. Just like today- this is one of the risks of wild camping with your van instead of paying for a camp site.
There are some bits about the petition that drive me crazy. For example, it talks about “people coming together for protection and companionship”. In my opinion, you shouldn’t be camping wild in a group. That is just asking for trouble. If you go somewhere and there are other vans there, we usually try and go ahead and book a cheap campsite or a field so we can camp together without causing problems.
Motorhome Wild Camping Guide for the UK and Europe
So, how can this rule affect motorhome wild camping in the UK?
First, I don’t believe the police or any other agency has any interest in getting motorhomes and campervans around. But if one of them is called by a landlord who is annoyed with people parking on their land, they need to have the power to tell them to move on.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I think the UK is saddened by the provisions for motorhomes and campers who do not want to use the camp site. Traveling so much with a motorhome in Europe, how wasteful the facilities are in the UK is frustrating – from getting water and emptying the waste safely, to being able to park near the city.
There are more and more carparks height barriers- why? Is it a big deal to let the motorhome stay overnight and pay for the space they use? It drives me nuts.
Having said that, there are many more places to offer overnight parking. Leisure centers, local rugby and football clubs, and many council-run buildings allow overnight parking if you ask in advance (and usually pay a small fee). But the pain in the ass they found.
So, if you enjoy spending off-grid time with your van and you’re concerned about the new law, use one of these new places- support them, respect them and show them it’s a great use of their space.
But, with all honesty, if you’re respectful, be prudent, get out of the way and don’t make noise or harm (and if asked go ahead), I don’t believe this bill will change how we turn the wild into the UK our van Including.
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