FOR the first time in five years, Dartmoor National Park Authority has increased its car parking charges in many of the park's major beauty spots. From May 1, parking charges will increase at Haytor, Postbridge, Princetown, Meldon Reservoir and Lyford car parks.

The new fees will be £3 for up to three hours and £5 if staying over three hours. Fees for minibus and coaches will be £10 all day. Blue Badge holders will pay £3 all day.  All the car parks remain free for motorcycles. 

Currently, the charges are £5 all day for minibuses/coaches; £2 for Blue Badge holders; £2 for up to three hours and £3 for over three hours for all other vehicles.

Charges for Haytor, Postbridge, Princetown and Meldon run will run from from 10am – 6pm Monday to Sunday. Charges for Lydford will run from 10am – 6pm Monday to Saturday and 1pm – 6pm on Sunday. 

Dartmoor National Park Authority claims that the price hikes are necessary measures to counter the 'reality of continued financial challenges' that the authority is facing. They also say that the money raised is reinvested back in important services such as maintaining car park surfaces, looking after toilets, improving accessibility and supporting conservation work. 

The authority has also invested funds in installing electric vehicle charging points with one already at Haytor and others planned for Postbridge and Princetown. 

Dartmoor National Park’s Director of Conservation and Communities Richard Drysdale said: 'We have done our best to keep the increases as modest as possible and visitors will still benefit from free parking before 10am or after 6pm.

'We think the increase is still good value for a day out on Dartmoor – one of the country’s most important landscapes and among the first to be designated as a National Park in 1951. 

'Fees are vital for us in maintaining our car parks and visitor services and continuing our conservation work to help keep Dartmoor special for everyone to enjoy.'

Signs letting people know about the increases have been put up in car parks.

Other organisations or individuals manage parking areas within the National Park. Some have charges and others ask for donations.

Some parking areas are very small and fill quickly so people should be prepared to look elsewhere and not park on verges or block gateways.