Illegal ‘No Overnight Parking’ signs to be removed from Scottish laybys


SCORES of “No Overnight Parking” signs are to be permanently removed from rural Scottish roadsides – after a Yorkshireman proved they are illegal.

Andy Strangeway complained the layby signs were unwelcoming and argued they had no legal basis.

Transport Scotland has now admitted the signs are not “authorised” and will be removed by August 31.

Andrew Strangeway is an environmental campaigner from North Yorkshire.


The signs were put up in the late 1990s with the intention of combating littering on rural Scottish roads.

But Mr Strangeway, an environmental campaigner, from Skipton, North Yorkshire, has spent the past nine months in a determined battle to have them removed.

He decided to take on the parking signs after becoming the first person to sleep on all 162 Scottish islands.

Reacting to the Transport Scotland climbdown, he said: “I started my campaign for the removal of the illegal No Overnight Parking signs across the Highlands on September 6 2011.

“Today I received notice from Transport Scotland that my campaign was successful.

“After a 10 month campaign taking on the machines of the Highland Council, the Northern Constabulary and Transport Scotland single-handed, it is just as well I was born in Yorkshire.

“I am delighted with this victory and I am sure it will make the Highlands a more welcoming place for visitors.”

The origin of the signs is a bit of a mystery, and it is not known who is responsible who erecting the signs.

Transport Scotland, said: “The signs concerned pre-date Transport Scotland and following a review we have instructed our operating companies to remove them in the coming weeks.

“Although the signs were erected with good intentions in an attempt to encourage responsible use of the laybys, the proper processes were not followed to prohibit overnight parking.

“There is no traffic order in place nor is there any evidence non-prescribed signs were approved by Scottish ministers.

“The signs are not authorised and should be removed by August 31.”

Highland Council’s transport boss, Sam MacNaughton, said the signs had been erected in the 90s following complaints about litter and public-health issues.

Many laybys were used by overnight campers, some of whom treated them as unofficial, open-air toilets.

Northern Constabulary’s road policing unit advised they did not have any particular concerns regarding this type of activity and would only take action if they considered it to represent a road hazard.


  1. Fair play to Andy. Not sure what the police have to do with it though? They don’t put up the signs or report for offences unless the legislation is there. I can think of some better campaigns that would have more useful unt comes, though……..Still, I guess everyone needs a hobby…..

  2. Good for him. I’ve seen the situation get worse over recent years. I live in central Scotland and often go up north walking. The signs often disappear during winter (when the campsites are shut) then reappear in time for summer visitors and just where are you suppost to park when the campsites are full?

  3. I could never see the reasoning behind them anyway and they were usually ignored.
    Camping sites in the highlands are few and far between and quickly fill up in the summer months. We have visited the Highland regions regularly over many years and often have to “Wild” camp in our campervan due to either lack of or full official sites. In all my years of visiting I have never seen an excess of litter in these parking areas.

  4. Be aware that there are some legally enforceable parking restrictions on some Scottish lay-bys, viewpoints and parking places where restrictions are made under the RTO order 1996 “The Highland Council (General off street parking places order) & these are enforceable by a Police Officer or Traffic Warden – the problem is no one is enforcing these Orders.

  5. Scotland’s access legislation is truly wonderful but not sure why a man who delights in remote camping was so motivated to campaign against no camping signs in lay-bys. As one who has to witness and deal with the reality of this informal camping I’m not cheering. The daily sight of car parks turned into shanty towns and mini landfill sights by caravans, camper vans and tents is appalling. Too often its the selfish, inconsiderate and couldn’t care less people abusing our enlightened access legislation who want to “camp” without putting a penny into local economies. People who care about the environment and Scotland’s landscape pay to use camping and caravan sites. The only plus point about having to visit and patrol these areas is that toilet paper is white therefore very visible. I’m sure you can work it what I’m getting at. Welcome to Scotland. Please keep it special.

    • It does not make sense for someone who asserts that they like our countryside to actively campaign for the removal. I agree with Ranger Smith.

    • if the camp sites were not so darn expensive and had value for money facilities then perhaps more motorhomers would use campsites in the UK – but they are not. No one has a duty to keep the local economy going – it is for the local economy to make themselves competitive enough and attractive enough for visitors to use

  6. “Too often its the selfish, inconsiderate and couldn’t care less people abusing our enlightened access legislation who want to “camp” without putting a penny into local economies”
    Many of these people will spend money on fuel for the car/camper van, food, drink, entry fees to attractions, membership of NTS and other organisations. MOST people are responsible and don’t litter or abuse the area in the way suggested, after all they are there because they like the location and will probably come back or recommend to others!

    This is no different from day trippers to these areas.

    I would suggest that the biggest complainers are those who provide sites or accommodation and feel somehow cheated.

    • That is it in a nutshell Micheal the already wealthy wanting to extract yet more from the populace by way of restricting camping and caravaning.

      I often use my caravan and stop in places that are not designated pay to stay campsites but that said I dont leave toilet paper, human waste, rubbish or anything else behind me either. Scotland is a beautiful country and I for one intend it to stay that way.

  7. Wonderful. I travelled in New Zealand 15 years ago. I was amazed to come across signs in laybys that said “please feel free to park overnight” I came away from NZ feeling it was such a positive friendly place. In fact I stayed twice as long as I had intended as a result. ( thus putting twice as much into the economy as intended).
    I have recently returned from a trip to Wales in a campervan. There are signs everywhere banning overnight parking. Barriers to prevent anything larger than a car visiting many carparks. I got so fed up of it and felt so unwelcome I left early. All my rubbish is disposed of properly, and recycled where appropriate. No mess whatsoever is left behind. I imagine the untidy folk would park in a layby whether there was a sign or not. I applaud the campaign. Lets hope they don’t try to legislate now to make the signs legal.

  8. I must admit I do not see any difficulty in stopping overnight in a camper van in a lay-by as the waste left behind is zero. When I park up any litter is kept on board. Even my waste water drains into a separate tank. When I leave there is no sign of me having been there, so I think the signs are really outdated.

    Well done to Andy as it allows more people to enjoy beautiful and peaceful scenery.

  9. Absolute rubbish. Wales is as welcoming as Scotland. There are not these signs everywhere. Next you will be bringing up the old chestnut about us all speaking only Welsh when there are visitors present.

    There are a lot of places that rely on tourism since the mines closed and I can assure you there is a welcome in the hillside.

  10. Hi Shelagh, just found this article. Can’t think you’ll get a reply from the Forestry Commission. The chances of getting them to welcome overnight campers/motorhomes is about the same as winning the Lottery. Such a sad state of affairs considering they ‘manage’ the forests on our – the people’s (tax payers) behalf – apparently!

  11. I regularly wild camp in my campervan.I never stay for more than 1 night in any place.I never leave any rubbish or other waste.I dont think the impact is any greater than a car parking there all day. I object very strongly to paying 20 odd quid to park in a campsite overnight. IN FACT THIS TYPE OF TOURING IS GREENER IN RESPECT OF THE FACT THAT YOU COVER LESS MILES, AS YOU DO NOT HAVE TO TRAVEL OUT AND RETURN TO YOUR ACCOMODATION EACH NIGHT.

  12. One more thought- we live near a major A road in Scotland that has been re-aligned, leaving the old bit set aside near our small group of houses. Lately, we’re getting tour buses and other visitors parking in this bit and having picnics and leaving litter, while also staring at our houses and making a fair amount of noise. This is a really quiet spot (or was) We have already had to send off a group of travelers who camped here for 6 weeks. If there are no laws concerning where is reasonable to stop over, where do we stand? Laybys are one thing, but the public doesn’t seem to care about the distinction…

  13. Absolutely delighted to hear this and congratulate you on a successful campaign. I too am a campervan wild camper who often takes other people’s rubbish when I leave. I cause no hassle and have found these signs disturbing and unfriendly. People make just as much mess parking in laybys during the day so I don’t for a second think it is to stop rubbish.

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