Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority will soon be gathering views from members of the public on the impact of caravan and campsites in the National Park.

In a National Park Authority meeting on 1 May 2024, Authority Members approved a proposal to consult with the public on a range of proposed options to control caravan and campsites. The consultation does not cover existing sites with planning permission, but focuses on temporary sites operating under what are known as permitted development rights.

Feedback from the consultation will help to inform how the Authority considers permitted development rights in the future, with a number of options currently being considered.

The Authority’s preferred option is the introduction of an Article 4 Direction, which would mean operators of temporary 28-day campsites within the National Park would require planning permission.

The second preferred option is to introduce a voluntary code of conduct for exempted organisations, which currently have the right to run or approve caravan and campsites without the need for planning permission or a licence.

At present, there are 7,500 pitches within the boundaries of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, either with planning permission or operating under an exemption certificate. There is also a significant number of what are now popularly termed ‘pop-up’ camping sites, operating under the 28 Day Rule.

Concerns have been raised in recent years however, due to increasing numbers of operators not adhering to the 28-day permitted development rights, with many temporary campsites operating for a much longer period of time, which can be up to 6 months of the year.

Sara Morris, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority’s Director of Placemaking, said: “While these forms of development have contributed greatly to the number of camping and caravan pitches in the National Park, it has also given rise to campsites coming into existence without the degree of scrutiny or public consultation given to sites going through the official planning application process.

“As well as putting a strain on the Authority’s ability to fulfil its main statutory purpose of conserving and enhancing the natural beauty, wildlife and heritage of the National Park, the current situation is also undermining our ability to properly plan for the area and pursue a strategy of regenerative tourism.”

The National Park Authority commissioned a study in 2015 to examine what capacity there is to accommodate more sites within the National Park without harm to the landscape. The conclusion was that there is only very limited capacity in some locations, while others are already at capacity. 

In addition to this, informal workshops conducted with statutory undertakers in late 2023 highlighted concerns around potential impacts on water quality and capacity as well as these landscape concerns.

The consultation, which will be launched in late May, will run until 5pm on Friday, September 20, 2024 and will be made available at upon launch.

Following public feedback, Members will consider the next steps required. If an Article 4 Direction is chosen as a preferred option, then a formal notice regarding this process will be issued in October 2024 with the opportunity for formal responses to be made to the Authority over a three month period. The potential introduction of any such Article 4 Direction would then take place in autumn 2025.