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Parking trial at Freshwater West to keep campers away

YELLOW lines and overnight parking fines are just some of the measures to be introduced at Freshwater West this summer in a bid to deal with soaring visitor numbers at the Pembrokeshire beach.

In figures provided by the RNLI, the numbers of sunseekers and surfers heading west has increased year on year, with more than 32,000 visitors alone during the summer period in 2018.

Once a haven for skilled surfers, Freshwater West has become famous around the world as the set for blockbuster movies and is one of the prized coastal locations in Pembrokeshire that is relatively unspoilt.

To deal with increasing visitors, camp-fires in the dunes and traffic concerns due to the numbers of camper vans parking along the narrow access route, local organisations including the Pembrokeshire Coastal Forum, Pembrokeshire County Council, the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park and the National Trust have been consulting with the community over steps to make getting to and from the beach safer.

Marc Tierney, Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire attended the consultation event in Castlemartin earlier this week, he said:

“From a tourism perspective, the success of Freshwater West is a real achievement for Pembrokeshire. But added visitor numbers without adequate infrastructure is causing difficulties for traffic and impacting on the local environment. Nearby residents attending the drop-in session raised concerns about camp-fires and camper vans parking overnight.

“In response, Pembrokeshire County Council and the National Trust will tighten up parking restrictions as a trial arrangement this summer, that means more double yellow lines along the road and other parking restrictions at the car parks with enforcement officers ready to hand out £100 fines to those caught flouting the new rules.”

“I was pleased to hear that there will be continued consultation with visitors over the summer months, it is important we balance the needs of local residents with visitors and to ensure that we think creatively about protecting our environment whilst also supporting our economy.”

The news comes as The National Trust needs to do more to protect a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) near Pendine from illegal campers as well.

Despite a locked barrier and a traffic ban, a number of caravans spent Easter weekend at Morfa Bychan.
“It was very sad to see a large number of people setting up camp at the cove, rubbish left behind, excrement in the bushes and a quad bike driven over the fragile ecosystem,” said Simon Hart MP.

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Mr Hart has been working with a number of different organisations to try to solve the problem of fly camping and littering at the beauty spot.

The land is owned by the National Trust, but a lane down to the beach is classified by Carmarthenshire County Council as a Byway Open to All Traffic (BOAT) which Welsh Water uses daily to access a pumping station.
“I appreciate that the National Trust and Carmarthenshire County Council have taken some steps to try to prevent this from happening but it’s had very little effect so far,” added Mr Hart.
“There is a couple of National Trust Coastodians who have been litter picking and monitoring the site for months and have done a wonderful job, it must be heartbreaking for them to see the site abused like this.
“I appreciate that the National Trust does not have bottomless pockets but it owns this special site and has a duty of care to protect it.
“Perhaps they could look at installing a lot more boulders to make access difficult for campers. Or even motion sensitive cameras to capture those who are damaging their gates?”