A GNR spokesperson told The Portugal News that inspections have been carried out along the Algarve in recent times to “discipline” motor-homing in the region.
“At present there are a number of sites that have been created especially for the use [of motorhomes] and fiscal interventions will be carried out to discipline the activity,” it was explained.
Action was carried out last Wednesday (18 March) in Armação de Pêra and Silves by GNR environment officers, echoing a similar campaign carried out last year that ruffled feathers at the time.
Following the action, Silves Town Hall was quick to issue a statement in which it stressed that the council was not responsible for calling in the police, and said it is fully in favour of the campers, “given the importance they exercise on the local economy.”
The council further clarified that “various efforts have been made in an attempt to respond to this problem.”
As one of the Algarve’s most mobile-home-friendly towns, Silves has in recent times pulled out all the stops to adequately accommodate the vehicles and their occupants’ needs.
Among other measures it has created a designated area specifically for the campervans, complete with proper service areas and infrastructures, which is currently waiting for full final licensing before the council can start charging visitors to use it.
Last month the council also carried out three awareness-raising rallies among the campers to clarify what they can and cannot do during their stay.
According to a statement from the town hall, the mobile-homers “are allowed to park but not camp (occupying public walkways with stabilisers, awnings, clotheslines, tables and chairs)” in the most popular spots, known as ‘Encalhe’ – a vacant plot in the town where annual fairs take place – and the riverside area next to the FISSUL exhibition pavilion.
“Silves Council had no intervention
whatsoever in the operation carried out today”, it stressed in the statement issued last Wednesday.
Elaborating on the matter, a council spokesperson told The Portugal News that “dozens” of campervans had been told to move on from the spots, but as many again still remained.
“The council had nothing to do with the action and did not request it”, it was reiterated, with the spokesperson adding: “We were not given any forewarning and didn’t expect it.”
“The present council would never request such an intervention, but at the same time we cannot intervene because [the officers] are acting based on the law.”
The spokesperson told The Portugal News that the campers have a “positive influence on the local economy” and “it would be good if they stayed.”
Recalling the efforts made to accommodate the seasonal visitors the spokesperson said “it is a market that has a future.”
According to newspaper Correio da Manhã, the officers fined dozens of motorhome-owners in Silves and Armação de Pêra, after knocking on their doors at the crack of dawn.
Around 50 motor-homers were reportedly fined for ‘illegal camping’ and ‘irregular parking’, resulting in many of them to choosing to move on from the sites.
Last February hundreds of motorhomers were cleared from the Silves riverside area in a move that was publicly slammed by Silves Mayor Rosa Palma – who is still the current mayor – but applauded by the motorhomers’ critics.
A GNR spokesperson told The Portugal News then that the action was carried out after “various complaints were made by local residents”, some of whom said “the area was being used like a public bathroom.”
Furthermore, the spokesperson stressed that camping is only legal in places that are “duly licensed and authorised for that purpose”, which Silves river-front is not.