Parking charges planned for popular nature reserve near Wellingborough
Summer Leys Nature Reserve is managed by The Wildlife Trust
Some visitors to a nature reserve near Wellingborough which is popular with bird watchers and ramblers will have to pay to park under plans for later this year.
Summer Leys Nature Reserve, between Wollaston and Great Doddington, is managed by The Wildlife Trust Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire & Northamptonshire (BCN).
Plans for introducing car parking charges for non-members of the Wildlife Trust had been delayed, but they now hope to implement them by the end of this year.
Parking charges will operate 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week with a pay and display machine and number plate recognition
A spokesman for the Wildlife Trust BCN said: "Due to anti-social behaviour at night-time the Wildlife Trust had a trial period around 18 months ago of locking the gates to Summer Leys nature reserve overnight in an attempt to minimise unsociable activity.
"Any perceived restrictions are always going to be unpopular and this lovely and popular nature reserve has a fairly high footfall and is popular with birders and wildlife photographers.
"The scheme had a mixed response as some were unhappy that the car park would close earlier than they wished. There was also concern expressed about the risks of pushing parking out on to the road, a concern shared by the trust.
"The notion of keeping the car park open and introducing a charge system seems a sensible way forward, so that those interested in wildlife would willingly pay – in line with most other organisations who charge for car park use – from National Trust to Woodland Trust, while for members of the trust parking will be free.
"The trust are working with a company to look at how this can be achieved – possibly with number plate recognition. All revenue raised from parking will go to the running and maintenance of the reserve."
Summer Leys Local Nature Reserve was formed after gravel extraction in the Nene Valley. The 47 hectare site, once two bean fields, was restored to form a main lake with gently shelving banks, shallow areas of water and ponds, low-lying islands and a fringe of reeds and willows, surrounded by grassland and wet woodland.
Due to its varied nature, the site attracts a large variety and number of wildfowl and other water birds and is both designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and as a Special Protection Area (SPA), reflecting the national and international importance of the Upper Nene Valley for wintering wildfowl.