NATURE lovers have welcomed new car parking charges at Shipley Country Park after the council has said the money will go towards maintaining the beauty spot.
For the first time since it opened in 1974, Derbyshire County Council will charge visitors £3 a day or £1 for two hours at its Mapperley Reservoir and Marlpool car parks.
Treasurer of Ilkeston-based Shipley Birdwatchers Jennifer Barker, whose group regularly uses the park, said the new charges are ‘worth paying’ and will not hurt their 30-strong membership.
“It will affect us to an extent because we hold a lot of walks and meetings down there at least once a month so it will cost us more money,” she said.
“Having said that I think everyone will be willing to pay.”
The Friends of Shipley Country Park, a charitable organisation which raises awareness and performs conservation and heritage tasks at the park, thinks the fees introduced last week will not affect numbers of visitors to the site.
But chairman Paul Smith, said the group will have to wait and see whether charges will mean visitors to either car park will opt to park in the streets.
He said: “As a group we did raise some concerns with the county council over the charge.”
He said the charge at the Coppice Side car park in Marlpool could mean visitors parking in Heanor Gate Industrial Estate.
“Coach companies already appear to be using the road to park on,” he added, “but we have been assured by the county council that this will be properly regulated.
“I think the parking charges are actually reasonable. We would prefer it if there were no charges, but as we understand it, that money is going to go back into maintaining the park, so we can’t argue with that.”
Signs were placed in six car parks in the county three weeks before charges were introduced and public notices were put up last year.
A spokesman for the county council said: “Like councils across the country, we’re facing financial pressures and we’ve got to save £90m over the next four years.
“We offer free parking at 30 of our 38 countryside sites. We already had pay and display at two and we’ve introduced it in six others.
“This will help us continue to provide countryside services and standardise charges, making them simpler and fairer for all visitors.
“It’s also brought our car parks into line with fees charged by other local councils and countryside attractions.”
Visitors can buy an annual parking pass for £50, which gives unlimited parking at all countryside sites.
Before the charges, visitors could leave donations in honesty boxes.