Wales

Freshwater West overnight parking ban sparks petition

Freshwater West
Image caption Freshwater West is a protected conservation area for wildlife and plants

More than 6,000 people have signed a petition opposing plans to stop people parking overnight at a Welsh beauty spot.

The National Trust wants to impose a £100 fine for people who park in its car parks at Freshwater West, Pembrokeshire, between 22:00 and 06:00.

The charity says overnight camping, litter and waste is a growing problem at the popular beach.

But petition organisers have branded the move a "money-making enterprise".

Popular with surfers and holiday-makers, it provided the backdrop for scenes in the Harry Potter and Robin Hood films.

Set in a conservation area and boasting orchids and rare birds, Freshwater West is regularly rated as among the most scenic beaches in Wales.

Image copyright Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority
Image caption Freshwater was the backdrop for Shell Cottage in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

However, its increasing popularity has seen a rise in people camping overnight in the beach's three car parks, leaving rubbish and lighting campfires in the protected sand dunes.

The National Trust said the area was home to wildlife and plant life and previous efforts to raise awareness of the problem had failed.

Rhian Sula, from the trust, said camping in the car parks was against the charity's bylaws.

"Freshwater West is an incredible location and it's always been very popular," she said.

"But last summer I received multiple complaints from local people asking us to manage the area, because car parks were full of camper vans and motorhomes."

Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority is due to consider an application for signage warning drivers of the new parking restrictions - on a 12-month trial - later this month.

An online petition - Keep Fresh West Wild and Free - against the plans has received more than 6,500 signatures.

Image caption Previous measures including signage, flyers and regular ranger patrols had failed to solve the problem

A spokesman said: "The £100 suggested fine is disproportionate when you consider who could get caught out by these measures.

"Many people use the beach before 6am and after 10pm and should be able to use the car park.

"The all-year-round enforcement of the car park is completely disproportionate to the times that congestion and overnight parking is an issue in this area."

On Facebook, some users suggested introducing a small fee could combat the problem, David Baden Salisbury said: "Why not introduce a small fee to stay over night and employ someone to keep on top of the rubbish?"

While Jackie Rosser said that would not solve the issue: "There would be no problem if the people camping were considerate and took all their rubbish home with them.

"A fee for camping, to provide bins or to employ someone to pick up other people's litter is completely the wrong way to look at the problem."

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