In the bill, the Communists consider that the legal framework for the use of motorhomes in Portugal is marked by “contradictions and inconsistencies” and that its legal framework “should be clear, fair and coherent”, ensuring “proper places with adequate characteristics for parking and the possibility of parking, where this can be done with respect for the environment and the safety of citizens”.
The party intends to “simplify the concepts and rules in force for this activity”, eliminating from the current Highway Code “the absurd concept of overnight stay” and of “permanence” of occupants in the vehicle during some hours of the day to determine whether the vehicle is parked, as this ignores “the dimension of the motor caravan as a means of transport” and considers “only these vehicles as a means of accommodation”.
“The previous version of the Highway Code already provided a set of rules applicable to all types of vehicles regarding the possibilities and places for parking, independent of the consideration of people staying inside during the immobilisation of the vehicle, now opening this unique exception for motorhomes,” justifies the PCP.
Besides, add the Communists, “the idea of negative discrimination is inevitable when it is verified that there are no other legal norms that prohibit overnight stays inside parked vehicles”.
The PCP also considers that both the parking and circulation of motorhomes are already foreseen and regulated to be done in authorised places, integrating the “sphere of competence of local authorities”, so it should be these competent authorities who decide, “instead of some sort of absurd general prohibition”.
“The PCP understands the need to adopt measures that prevent and combat abusive situations and behaviour related to the parking and use of motorhomes or similar vehicles in places where this practice is not allowed, but the way the Government has chosen to legislate on this matter is hasty, inappropriate and discriminatory,” they write.
The PCP also argues that “when the problem is the lack of supervision and non-compliance with the law, the solution is certainly not to change the law in an unfair way”, but to apply it “according to local regulations defined by the competent authorities” and taking into account the concrete realities of each territory.
The alterations to the Highway Code came into force in January, establishing a ban on the parking and overnight stay of motorhomes outside of authorised sites.
The GNR, PSP, the Maritime Police and the municipalities were given supervisory powers to act off public roads and protected areas in situations of overnight stay and parking of motorhomes or caravans outside authorised sites.
The new measures have been contested by the Portuguese Motor Caravaning Association and the Portuguese Motor Caravaning Federation, for being considered restrictive and discriminatory.