Conservation bosses introduce parking charges on popular stretch of coastline

Souter Lighthouse.
Souter Lighthouse.
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Drivers will be forced to pay parking charges at on a popular stretch of coastline as part of a drive to fund coastal conservation.

The National Trust, which looks after Souter Lighthouse and The Leas, is introducing a formal car parking charge on March 14 after a previously operating an honest box system.

Motorists will have to pay £2 for a half day and £3 for full day charge, which the Trust says will help ensure the iconic Souter Lighthouse and surrounding coastline are safeguarded for future generations.

National Trust members, however, will benefit from free parking as they do at over 750 other Trust car parks across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Simon Colvine, Operations Manager for the National Trust at Souter Lighthouse, said: “More and more people are coming to Souter Lighthouse and The Leas – delighting in its history, beautiful open spaces and enjoying some precious leisure time.

"As a charity we need to ensure we have a sustainable income to take care of this special place well into the future. It’s only through people’s support that we are able to conserve historic buildings and improve and protect habitats for wildlife.”

He added: "“If we want everyone to enjoy this special place then we need to address the inevitable wear and tear and make Souter fit for the future and for future generations.”

The National Trust said more people are visiting the stretch of coastline, which is "great news", but if it didn't act now, it The Leas could become "a victim of its own success".

The Trust said: "Conservation work and vital maintenance often come with a hefty price tag.

"This year alone the Trust will be re-surfacing the car park at a cost of approximately £65,000, as well as building a boardwalk through wetlands in Whitburn Coastal Park so visitors can get closer to wildlife.

"There’s also a project in the pipeline to create new outdoor facilities for visitors and school groups."