Campers and rubbish on the West Coast – Letter # 2

Dear Editor,

Your story in last week’s The Resident, ‘Campers ‘destroying’ the western Algarve coastline’, prompts me to respond as I currently have a piece running in a local English language magazine dedicated to the good life (wild horses wouldn’t drag the name of the publication from me). This article exhorts the joys of motorhoming, especially ‘wild camping’, in such places as the Costa Vincentina.

My wife and I spend several weeks each year in our motorhome on what I believe are some of the finest beaches in Europe located along Portugal’s western coast.

We are not alone. Thousands of other motorhomers, campers and even caravaners (whoever they are) can be found enjoying this fabulous coastline while contributing to the local economy in shops, restaurants and filling stations.

Few, if any, leave litter or ‘destroy’ the coastline. The average camper is more than likely a member of some green party dedicated to saving Polar Bears from melting icecaps and would no more leave litter than buy conventional cigarettes, whilst the somewhat more mature motorhomers would rather set fire to their Pink Floyd vinyls than throw lavatory paper out of the bathroom window.

There is definitely some litter to be found – far less than in camper-free resorts like Albufeira – but do take on board a couple of points here; how much of this is left by local day-trippers who have yet to appreciate the beauty of their own country, and, if some campers are guilty of wasting waste, should we all be pilloried for the actions of a minority? Remember that all fire-engines are red lorries but few red lorries are fire-engines.

Your interviewee advocates that, in order to reduce litter, campers should use ‘legal’ camp sites of which “there are around 15” in the Algarve region. How many of these are in the Costa Vincentina national park? Two. Both over three kilometres from the coast.

As to the legality of ‘wild camping’ in Portugal, the law seems, as far as I can discern, as nebulous as so many other regulations here – thank Heaven!

Yours in a non-litter generating motorhome somewhere on the western coast,

Rayner Otter,

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