Here in deepest Anglesey, we are having a dispute with the RSPB over one of their reserves South Stack, which is in fact 88% public land (leased to them by the council). The RSPB plan to charge for parking on three of the four car parks at the site and there is no access via public transport and it is a remote site.
Not only is the vast amount of the land in public ownership, it was also given to the people of Anglesey for their free use. The birds at South Stack are far from being the only attraction. There is a lighthouse that is over 200 years old and is an iconic part of the landscape in Anglesey and indeed the whole of Wales. This is run on a pay by admission basis by a ‘not for profit’ company who give all of their proceeds to local projects. The rocks at South Stack were formed some 500 million years ago. There is also a scheduled ancient monument looked after by Cadw.
Any payment taken by the RSPB will go to the RSPB alone. They have proposed that on a trial basis, they charge a reduced sum of £2 an hour (originally it was to be a flat fee of £5). They have stated that they cannot guarantee that they will not put this charge back up again as it is subject to review. This parking fee is a large amount for people living on this island that has some of the most deprived areas in Wales. This is at a time when we are supposed to be encouraging exercise and ‘getting outdoors’ for the wellbeing of a nation.
They also plan to upgrade their visitor centre/café to the tune of £840,000 (some of which will be publicly funded), when done they will be sitting on a huge piece of valuable real estate. They say that they need the parking fee to justify the investment from their Trustees for the building work. If pushed, they revert to mentioning that nature needs help.
They have been refused planning permission for 4 parking payment machines by the Council but have indicated that they will now appeal to the Planning Inspectorate. I attach a petition now signed by over 6,000 against the parking, hopefully my updates within will give you plenty of information but I am happy to answer any questions.
Do any TLIO members have experience of large charities acting in this way, against the public good? Interested in any thoughts and comments on either side of the debate. With many thanks for allowing me to post.