Six-year car ban at Pendine sands reversed
A ban on car parking on a beach, blamed for a fall in visitors, is being lifted at school holidays and on weekends.
The restrictions at Pendine were imposed six years ago after a report warned of a risk of a serious accident.
A private company will operate car parking for up to 500 vehicles on the sands in Carmarthenshire.
Blue Flag organisers say it will not hinder its chances of retaining the award so long as the return of cars is safely managed.
Villagers in Pendine, famous for its world land speed record attempts, say they had noticed a significant drop in the number of tourists since the ban was introduced in 2004.
Chairman of the community council Simon Morris said: "The decision to ban cars from parking on our beach greatly affected the village.
"Pendine was renowned as the place to get a car parking space on a day out to the beach attracting visitors throughout the summer months."
The ban came into force following a report by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.
Carmarthenshire council was forced to take on the management of the seven-mile long beach after no one stood for the local community council elections in 2004 after being told they could face corporate manslaughter charges if there was a fatal accident.
But Pendine council has now taken control of the beach again.
Mr Morris said the council had engaged the services of Total Parking Solutions to allow cars back onto the sands.
"We are delighted to have reopened the beach for car parking and are working with Total Parking Solutions to deliver a professionally managed safe site," he added.
He said, tidal and weather conditions permitting, the beach car park will be open on weekends and bank holidays, building up to seven days a week during the summer holidays.
Vehicles will be charged £3 a day.
Visitors will be directed to a designated managed beach parking zone. No off-road vehicles, such as quad bikes, will be permitted on the sands.
In 2007 Pendine was awarded a Blue Flag for the first time and retained the award this year.
A spokesman for the Keep Wales Tidy, which manages the awards, said as long as car parking was properly managed and there was no safety risk to beach users, the changes would not affect its chances in the future.