Laois is missing out on tourism because it is lacking serviced campervan parking, according to a local campervan driving councillor.
Laois County Council has revealed that it is looking into providing motor home parking, and it is also working on helping landowners create new campsites to attract tourists.
Fine Gael Cllr Aisling Moran is asking Laois County Council to install areas for motor homes to stop in towns and villages.
She has also asked if there are any grants for Laois landowners to develop campsites and boost tourism.
"I'm talking about parking on the street, three or four spaces. For example in Stradbally. You pull into a little village, you spend money. If there were only one or two in every town and village, they would always be full.
"It's really important to give grants to landowners to put a campsite on their land," Cllr Moran said.
She tabled a motion to the September meeting of Laois County Council, also requesting an update on the development of the Barrow Blueway section in Laois.
"Two years ago I brought this up. I am asking about the part from Athy to west Laois," she said.
Cllr James Kelly from Mountrath agrees.
"We need charging points, toilets and showers. Mountrath is a prime location for two or three charging points. I keep looking across the border at Kinnitty, they have everything there. The council could be a little more proactive," he said.
Cllr PJ Kelly from Ballybrittas suggests that GAA clubs could provide the parking.
"In my own GAA club they have a stretch of ground and they have toilet facilities, maybe that is a potential good area for parking," he said.
Cllr Padraig Fleming backs Cllr Moran's motion, which also sought an update on the Barrow Blueway.
"I've walked on them, they are fantastic. To get services in towns and villages for motorhomes and serviced campsites, it's the way Ireland needs to be going to make Laois more attractive for people to come in and visit us," he said.
"Everybody seems to be going to Kerry and Cork and to the greenway in Waterford and we're losing them. It would be nice to have toilets and then everywhere is benefiting. We have lovely areas and scenery," agrees Cllr Ben Brennan.
In reply, Laois County Council said that a preliminary scoping exercise on motorhome parking. They have considered locations, availability of services for water and wastewater, set up costs, operations and management.
"The Council is also engaging with private sector interests that may be in a strong position to delivery such services at key locations in the County. For example, discussions have taken place with Coillte with regard to the provision of such facilities as part of the Mountain Bike Trail development. This Council has no suitable land available for the provision of motor homes in the
County as existing land banks are for the provision of housing and development sites," they said.
They add that there are grants available from Laois Partnership for works associated with developing campsites by private land owners on their lands. 50% of the cost is available to a maximum of €200,000. Grants for feasibility studies are, also, available (75% for Private and 90% Community up to maximum of €30,000).
On the Blueway, the council note that a €6.8 million project was approved back in 2019, for 46km of the Barrow to be developed with walking tracks, and 13km of that is in Laois.
"Works from Courtwood to Fisherstown are complete and this stretch of the canal is opened. The stretch from Ballymanus to Vicarstown is also completed. Works continues between Fisherstown and Monasterevin, with a target completion date of the end of September 2021. Works will then return to Vicarstown," the council reported.
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