North West Wales

Snowdon walking charge 'needed to protect mountain'

Climbers approaching Snowdon Image copyright Getty Images

Campaigners have said walkers should pay to climb Snowdon amid claims too many people are visiting the mountain.

The Farmers' Union of Wales (FUW) said a charge was necessary to protect Wales' highest peak for "future generations".

There are growing concerns over litter and damage to pathways.

A Ramblers Cymru spokeswoman said charges would not be legal and would compromise "hard-won and fiercely protected rights".

The Snowdonia National Park Authority warned there was no "silver bullet" solution and a paid permit scheme would be difficult to police.

But Gwynedd Watkin, FUW Caernarfon county executive, said the idea had been adopted in many other countries.

"It's something we need to do in order to protect what we've got," he told BBC Radio Wales' Jason Mohammad programme.

"How are we going to maintain those paths for future generations? It's one thing to say we have a right, but we also have a responsibility.

"Gwynedd council and the national park authority are being squeezed (financially). How are we going to do it otherwise?"

Image copyright Andrew Ennever
Image caption Rubbish left at the top of Snowdon by walkers

Rebecca Brough, policy and advocacy manager at Ramblers Cymru, admitted the numbers of people on Snowdon were "challenging" but said there was no legal basis for a charge scheme as Snowdon's pathways are public rights of way.

"We wouldn't want to discourage people from getting out walking. It's free and it should be. Paths are already maintained at the public expense," she added.

Jonathan Cawley, director of planning and land management at the Snowdonia National Park Authority, said other options needed to be explored.

"There's no one silver bullet. We spend huge sums on the upkeep of the maintenance of paths on Snowdon, but it's never enough. We do litter picking which is a huge task. There's an education programme that needs to happen," he said.

The Snowdon Partnership, of which the authority and Gwynedd council are members, have developed a new plan to try and tackle litter and maintenance issues.

Image copyright Getty Images

Mr Cawley said a voluntary visitor gift scheme in Llanberis, which sees tourists donate to maintain the local infrastructure, had seen 28 businesses sign up to run it.

A similar scheme in the Lake District raises £250,000 a year.

But Mr Watkin said such a scheme would not raise enough and an official permit, such as the one needed to climb Peru's Inca Trail, or a mandatory tourism tax, would be more suitable.

He agreed a charge scheme would be "very difficult to police", but suggested there could be a fine system - and the income could contribute towards the cost of extra wardens.

Ramblers Cymru welcomed a voluntary payment scheme and said more people should be encouraged to volunteer to maintain Snowdon.

"Our members are willing to put their time and effort in," Ms Brough said.

"They would be supportive of anything to ensure the paths are well-maintained - but not supportive of something that makes people pay again."

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites