The National Trust plan to introduce car park charges and propose building a new visitor centre at Pont ar Daf, a popular start point for walkers on Pen y Fan.
The organisation owns and manages much of the Brecon Beacons National Park, including Pen y Fan, which at 886m is the highest mountain in South Wales and a magnet for walkers. Because of its high altitude and convenient location at the foot of the hill Pont ar Daf is among the best used access points. Hitherto parking here has been free of charge. Walkers already used to the National Trust's pay-and-display parking regimes in other hill areas it owns in Snowdonia and the Lake District may wonder what's taken them so long to moot the idea of charges here.
There is currently no visitor centre on the site, where the National Trust say there have been long running problems with car crime and litter.
National Trust Property Manager, Phil Park, tells us:
'The National Trust are designing a site with walkers in mind, tackling the security, safety, environmental and ecological problems that have beleaguered this site for decades. The new car park, toilets, visitor reception building and café will provide a more fitting gateway to this stunning part of Wales.'
'The National Trust invests more than £100,000 a year maintaining footpaths on the Beacons so that the landscape is more accessible to all. To off-set that cost the Trust will have to levy a small charge for parking.'
But not everyone is convinced of the merits either of car park charges or visitor centres, including some users of this site - see this forum thread. Ramblers Cymru have also given the proposals a thumbs down. Director Angela Charlton told the BBC:
'Ramblers Cymru believes walking should be free and accessible to all and we are disappointed that the National Trust feel they have to start charging for parking. People have been freely walking Pen y Fan for many years.'
The Trust intends to submit a planning application later this year for the Pont ar Daf scheme. Will it be maes parcio or dim parcio?