No to RSPB car park charges at South Stack & across the UK
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***EDIT JUNE 2019***
Stop the RSPB Land Grab.
We have decided to extend the scope of this petition and ask the RSPB to reconsider their policy on charging across UK reserves but particularly on sites with public ownership and/or that are part of our culture and history.
Whether you are a walker, a cyclist, a campervan & caravan enthusiast, a rock climber, a geologist, a historian, a naturalist or you just need our great outdoors, this petition is for you. If you can afford to pay for parking, please just spare a thought for those who cannot. We have to drive cars in Anglesey and South Stack is remote and is not served by public transport.
We never intended to knock the RSPB, we understand that on the ground those wardens and volunteers have the interests of nature and passion at their heart, but this local enthusiasm and knowledge is sadly being degraded by the actions and ambitions of those higher up the chain of command.
Our primary concern is the local reserve of South Stack Ynys Lawd, where work has just started on an £840,000 construction project at one of the RSPB's biggest grossing cafés. RSPB UK expect each reserve to sink or swim on its own merits. Of course, every charity should look to be financially sustainable and responsible - but, not at the expense of the public benefit. The internal investment for this building work needs to be repaid and the way that the RSPB have chosen to get the return on their investment is to impose a pay & display parking charge that is beyond the affordability of many local people. Innovation and inspiration are dead. This doesn't even make good business sense for them.
In our case, the land was gifted to the public. 88% of it is leased by our council to the RSPB and 12% is RSPB owned. Clearly the charges they impose in their own carpark is their affair (although it is morally repugnant to exclude the poor), however, the leased car park areas should certainly be free of charge.
South Stack is just one location that is in our hearts but if your local nature site is free to access now, it won't be for long.
We have been in dispute with the RSPB since March 2018 when we first discovered these plans and we have tried all diplomatic means to ask them to change their policy, but this large organisation is not listening to the 'little' people. Where is the conservation in a spruced up, till-ringing building, how is this 'giving nature a home'? What this will hand the RSPB, is a shiny piece of real estate within the AONB in a breath-taking location. It will take everything from the people of Anglesey and our much loved visitors. Those who can afford to pay the fee and buy a latte, may marvel at this 'unspoilt' jewel in the Island's crown, as they look out from the 'floor to ceiling' glass. Those who cannot afford to breathe the fresh air of Anglesey will be shut off from their social history, culture, sea-faring heritage, prehistoric relics and 500 million year old rocks. The flowers and the birdlife existed and were recorded way before the RSPB were formed in Wales but the people will be unable to appreciate them now.
We have asked for a more reasonable policy, 2 hours free, free pass for all island residents etc. We have suggested other ways to raise funds (although some would say that their 'honeypot' café would be enough). Still, we cannot get through because those at the top of the organisation have forgotten their charitable objectives and are remote from the harsh reality of life.
As we move on, we hear more and more about other people that have had this policy imposed on them across the UK. As we have often said, the logo of the RSPB used to be For Birds, For People Forever but now the people and the birds are secondary to the annual accounts. The stated intent of the RSPB is to double their land-holding by 2030. We would say, live and work within your means.
End of June 2019 edit.
**NEW edit for new supporters** The RSPB have offered new concessions to extend the £20 annual pass to all residents of Anglesey and to introduce a staged fee of £2 an hour, including blue badge holders. Whilst we welcome any move in the right direction, our campaign continues as the material facts explained in this section and all our updates have not changed.
The RSPB have appealed to the Welsh Government appointed Planning Inspectorate against the wishes of the public. They have succeeded in their appeal and the pay & display machines and associated signage have been approved at three locations (only one of which is RSPB owned). They have shared their plans with us for a c£840,000 project to upgrade the facilities at the visitor centre but the vast majority of this project will not benefit the public or nature. The toilet facility upgrade is being publicly grant funded by VisitWales. We would argue strongly that the rest of this huge project should be funded by the RSPB via public donations, membership, legacies, business donations and income from their retail/catering trading company.
We reject the idea that visitors and locals should pay to access their own land so that the RSPB can fund a visitor centre that does not directly benefit the AONB or nature in any way, save for generating more revenue for the RSPB. We know that any income raised goes back to their trading company and therefore cannot be ringfenced to come back to South Stack.
We are not confident in any way that once the parking machines are in place and the lease renewed, we will not find ourselves looking at a £5 fee again and perhaps more. This has happened at many other RSPB locations where the fee has risen having been reviewed by RSPB.
The RSPB make significant income at South Stack and across Anglesey from rural payments, lottery grants and tourism/sustainability funds, all public money. We are talking hundreds of thousands of pounds. This is why we continue with our campaign and find that the RSPB taking the legal high ground leaves them taking the moral low ground.
To be positive, we have suggested a number of possible alternatives to the RSPB such as a donation only pay & display meter.
Welcome to Ynys Môn RSPB, you ain't seen nothing yet.
**End of edit, original text follows**
The RSPB propose to charge a flat rate parking fee of £5 at South Stack/Ynys Lawd Anglesey. The RSPB is already supported at this location via purchases in the popular RSPB café and RSPB shop and via donations/new memberships at Ellin's Tower/Tŵr Elin.
The local photography scene is also thriving and local photographers provide free publicity for this iconic Anglesey location. Moreover, the carpark is the only option available to access not only the RSPB reserve but the coastal path, the lighthouse (managed by a separate trust) and the stone hut circles.
The charge also includes blue badge holders. Whilst it is reasonable that the RSPB need to raise funds, it is counterproductive to introduce a flat rate fee of £5 to park a car at a location that does not exclusively serve an RSPB reserve site.
South Stack/Ynys Lawd holds a special place in the hearts of both locals and visitors alike as a place of heritage, history and family memories. It is acknowledged as one of the jewels in the island's crown.
The charge takes no account of the island economy and is out of line with council car park charges which are at least staggered depending on duration parked.
This petition is not anti-RSPB and no abuse in the comments will be tolerated, it is just asking for a more reasonable and suitable approach based on site specific circumstances.
Thanks in advance for your support, diolch yn fawr.
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