Forest parking price rise announced

PUBLISHED: 20:45 17 June 2008 | UPDATED: 21:07 07 July 2010

Visitors are being warned that they will have to pay at more Thetford Forest sites from this weekend with the introduction of a trial mobile phone parking scheme.

Visitors are being warned that they will have to pay at more Thetford Forest sites from this weekend with the introduction of a trial mobile phone parking scheme.

Forestry officials revealed their new environmentally-friendly and flexible car park charging system yesterday, which will force drivers to pay via text message or telephone.

From Saturday, the Forestry Commission will begin a

four-month pilot scheme at seven of its East Anglian car parks - six

of which are currently free

to use.

Officials from the government organisation yesterday said that the introduction of charges at Lynford Water, Lynford Zig Zag, Lynford Stag, Santon Downham, St Helen's and Two Mile Bottom in Thetford Forest Park, will help to pay maintenance costs and potentially restore play facilities to some of their sites.

The new initiative will ask drivers visiting the trial sites, which also includes Rendlesham Forest, near Woodbridge, to pay a £2 daily rate at venues with toilet facilities and £1 for those without on their mobile phone or landline before midnight on the day of their visit.

Forest rangers will be equipped with electronic devices to check whether people have paid and those that do not do so within 14 days will be sent a £10 administration charge and could face legal proceedings if they fail to cough up.

Roger Woods, spokesman for the Forestry Commission, said some of the sites previously had pay and display machines, which had become too difficult to administer and had been vandalised.

He added that the organisation only had a £37,000 budget to maintain facilities at the 25,000ha Thetford Forest Park - excluding High Lodge - and the extra income generated by the scheme could help return play equipment removed from Lynford Stag and

St Helen's picnic area 18 months ago.

“This avoids the need for parking machines or other infrastructure which could damage the forest environment or be vandalised. We also hope the system will be an easier way for people to pay. The funds raised will be used to improve facilities in local woodlands and access to

woodland is, and will remain free,” he said.

An estimated 1.5m people visit Thetford Forest every year, with the majority coming by car and using its 13 car parks.

Mr Woods said that Friends of Thetford Forest Park members and High Lodge season ticket holders were exempt from the phone payment scheme.

Information leaflets will be available from car parks and

the Forestry Commission

office at Santon Downham, he added.

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