PARKING charges at Meldon Reservoir could be doubled if proposals are supported by Dartmoor National Park Authority members tomorrow (Friday).

A motion recommended for approval by the authority would see charges at Dartmoor’s Princetown, Postbridge, Meldon Reservoir and Haytor car parks increased.

The recommendations would see charges rise to £2 for up to three hours and £3 for the full day, rather than the existing £1 and £2 tariffs.

The last financial year saw a total of £75,000 income received from all car parks and it is anticipated the same amount would be gained in this financial year.

A Dartmoor National Park Authority spokesperson said this was the first increase since car parking charges were introduced in Princetown in 2013 and the other sites in 2018, and was still at a lower rate than many other national parks.

Members of the authority decided in March 2019 not to increase car parking charges for the 2019/20 financial year, but had asked officers to look into the feasibility of introducing an annual pass or season ticket.

But the report by head of business support Donna Healy said the take-up of an annual pass or season ticket would not be significant and costs would outweigh any benefits. As a result, increasing tariffs has been revisited.

‘Car parking charges have not changed since 2013,’ she said.

‘There is a difficult balance to be struck between providing access and facilities (which cost money) with not putting barriers in place that might prevent access. Car parking charges are currently the only fees (within the authority’s control) that generate a significant revenue.’

Contactless payment card readers are also set to be installed into all parking machines and subject to approval by the authority, car parking charges would increase from April 1, 2020.

An authority spokesperson added: ‘We own and manage 145 car parks/parking areas in Dartmoor National Park along with five public toilets. Others are owned by other organisations, including the National Trust, Forestry Commission and South West Water. Some are independently owned.

‘We only charge in five of these car parks: Meldon, two at Haytor, Postbridge and Princetown (Princetown is managed on our behalf by West Devon Borough Council). We have to strike a balance between providing well-maintained facilities so Dartmoor is accessible for people who want to visit, proposing fair and affordable charges and meeting the challenge of consistent reductions in government funding.

‘Income goes back into keeping Dartmoor a special place by supporting conservation projects and helps us maintain these car parks and toilets.’