NEW ‘pay and conserve’ charges have been introduced at three Dartmoor National Park car parks this week.

Dartmoor National Park Authority has installed pay and conserve parking metres in car parks at Postbridge, Meldon Reservoir and Haytor with charges being introduced on Monday.

The context for introducing the new pay and conserve scheme follows a 40% reduction in national park funding since 2011, making the maintenance of car parks and other visitor facilities in the national park a significant financial challenge. A voluntary parking donation scheme set up in these car parks, which it was hoped would raise income, proved unsustainable as donations were as low as 15% per vehicle.

Formal car parking charges were introduced successfully at Princetown in 2013, replacing the voluntary donation scheme, and income has considerably increased.

Andrew Watson, head of recreation, access and estates for the Dartmoor National Park Authority, said: ‘Signifiant financial investment is required to maintain the car parks at these sites, with over £200,000 of repairs and maintenance identified over the next two to three years. The pay and conserve charges will help us to provide a sustainable solution to the maintenance of our car parks and other visitor facilities, with all income from charging being ring-fenced to support this and important conservation projects in the national park.’

Car parking charges will apply from Monday to Sunday, between 10am and 6pm. Cars — up to three hours, £1, over three hours, £2. Blue badge holders, £1 all day. Coaches/minibuses, £4.