Wales

South Stack: Concerns over new parking charges at beauty spot

South Stack lighthouse surrounded by the sea Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The cliffs at South Stack are breeding grounds for different bird species

Concerns have been raised about a charity's decision to introduce charges at car parks near a popular nature reserve.

South Stack, near Holyhead on Anglesey, draws in tens of thousands of visitors every year and has offered free parking for decades.

One councillor said the charges could mean "people will no longer visit".

But bird protection charity, the RSPB, said the charges were a result of less "public sector funding".

Since April this year, visitors can spend the first two hours free and then pay £2.50 for the rest of the day.

But between March and October 2020, visitors will have to pay £2 for the first hour and then £5 for the rest of the day.

Dafydd Rhys Thomas, councillor for Ynys Cybi, said: "This land has been free for centuries and to bring charges in, I'm not happy.

"The effect can already be seen, people just won't bother coming.

"I don't have any issues with the people who work there, only the large organisation which has lost touch with the local people."

Image copyright Gav Hardie
Image caption In 2018 an online petition was signed by 6,000 people against the charges

In response, the RSPB said it receives less public-sector money and it wants to continue to "manage the reserves to the standards that people expect".

"There is staffing and maintenance work to do and we want to make sure that everyone enjoys it," Bethan Lloyd from RSPB Cymru said.

"Of course, it's a sensitive matter.

"We are the first to say that we didn't consult enough at the start, but now I hope we have done enough to open up dialogue channels with local people."

The new charges will start next year when all work is due for completion.

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