Lancashire County Council will be charging a £1 daily fee for parking at Condor Green picnic site.
In 2011 a £1 charge was brought in for parking at the visitors' centre at Beacon Fell Country Park, near Preston, and the Crook O' Lune picnic site at Caton, near Lancaster. Asking the thousands of annual visitors to these two sites to pay a small fee has already helped to generate income which has been reinvested to protect the Countryside Service at a time when the council is facing huge cuts to its budget.
The council has now decided to extend the pay and display system to Conder Green Picnic Site in Lancaster, Springwood Picnic Site in Whalley, and Wycoller Country Park in Colne. Charges will be introduced later in the season.
To get to the Condor Green carpark, turn west off the A588 onto Corricks Lane at the historic Stork Inn (which has its own carpark) and it is just after the Cafe d'Lune where the lane joins the Lune Estuary foot and cyclepath, at the start of the saltmarsh footpath embankment to Glasson Dock. The carpark is shady and well-maintained, with a handy free toilet block with disabled facilities. The area is popular with cyclists and walkers too and has stunning views across the Lune estuary.
Regular users will be able to buy an annual season ticket for £50, which works out at less than 14p per day. Blue badge holders will not be charged.
County Councillor Marcus Johnstone, cabinet member for environment, planning, and cultural services, said: "This is not a decision I have enjoyed taking and in an ideal world parking would remain free. We are however going through exceptionally difficult financial times and this is the sort of change we are forced to make as a result.
"The pay and display parking already in operation at two sites has shown most people accept paying this small charge. Our Countryside Service offers visitors a really good day out and we believe most people who choose to park at these sites will accept paying £1 a day.
"We're doing this for a very good reason – we need to save £300m from the council's budget over the next four years as a result of government cuts and this represents an opportunity to protect a service which many people value.
"Any extra income will go towards the cost of maintaining the sites. Paying £1 a day to park is very good value for money compared with the charge at many similar visitor attractions."
The proposal to introduce car park charges at countryside sites was included in the consultation carried out as part of the council's budget setting process in February 2011.
Lancashire Parking Services will manage the pay and display scheme. The county council's countryside rangers will deal with minor maintenance issues such as ticket and coin jams and keeping the machines topped up with tickets.