Lycetts has issued a timely warning to farmers and landowners, tempted by the chance to make a few hundred pounds per day via pop-up camping sites. The number of farms offering pop-up campsites has soared this summer, boosted by a change to government planning policy and rising demand for staycations, says Lycetts.
It isn’t illegal, but allowing the public to camp out, light BBQs or fires, drive over rough terrain etc has its pitfalls. New regulations allowing farmers in England to operate a campsite without planning permission up to 56 days – double the usual 28-day limit – was extended to the end of 2021, in an attempt to bolster farmers’ income and encourage domestic holidays.
Farmers may be putting themselves at risk by operating pop-up campsites, as they may be unwittingly contravening insurance requirements or unknowingly have gaps in their cover. Insurers may have strict conditions on such things as hygiene facilities, health and safety assessments, fire risk assessments and site access, and also impose restrictions on what the policy will cover, so farmers could be left exposed to gaps in protection.
Farmers may not be aware that they need to inform their insurer of their intentions before they set up camp, as they could be in breach of their farm insurance policy. They need to tread carefully as they face a risk minefield.
CLEAR SIGNAGE, BOUNDARY LINES, NO FIRES – BEST WAY FORWARD
But inviting the public on to working land is the most pressing issue to consider.
Agriculture has a notoriously high injury and fatality rate – higher than any other industry – with 34 deaths occurring in 2020/21, a 62 per cent rise on the previous year.
It is not just workers who are killed and injured every year, members of the public are often victims too, so farmers should not underestimate the importance of keeping the public and working farm separate.
Farmers should clearly mark the areas where public access is permitted and where it is forbidden and outline to any visitors the limits of the campsite. All measures should be taken to keep livestock and machinery secured and away from visitors and farmers should consider providing helpful advice to visitors on how they can stay safe during their stay.
Additional cover may be needed, such as public liability insurance, to mitigate against the risk of someone getting injured on site or making a claim.
For anyone who has already jumped on the pop-up campsite bandwagon, it is imperative that you speak to your insurer or broker today to ensure all bases are covered and you aren’t putting either enterprise in jeopardy.