With lockdown restrictions easing, hundreds are expected to descend on North Wales’ beauty spots this Bank Holiday weekend.
But North Wales Police, local councils and Snowdonia National Park Authority have joined forces to urge people to be respectful of others and their surroundings.
It comes after last summer’s relaxing of coronavirus measures saw major issues with parking, litter and unlawful ‘fly’ camping.
Shocking scenes saw massive queues of people ignoring Covid-19 guidelines to reach Snowdon’s summit with many parking illegally.
But now, shuttle bus services have been laid on in Snowdon and Ogwen areas, and visitors are asked to pre-book parking or come at quieter times as the Indian variant continues to circulate.
People who park illegally have been warned their vehicles will be towed away.
A joint statement, released by the authorities says: “Easing of restrictions during 2020 gave us an insight to probable scenarios that might arise again in 2021 with three major issues needing to be addressed.
“We, and other green spaces across the UK, are anticipating a significantly high volume of visitors to the area over the Bank Holiday weekend – people have been in lockdown for a long time and are understandably eager to get out and enjoy some fresh air and open space again.
“However, an increase in visitors will inevitably mean more cars, more litter and more unlawful ‘fly’ camping with authorities urging the public to respect the arrangements to avoid the need for enforcement action.
“Such demands also place a strain on our resources and our communities but by working together we aim to minimise any potential negative effects whilst maximising the positive ones.”
Emyr Williams, Snowdonia National Park Authority’s Chief Executive said: “Given that our most popular car parks are full before 6.30am during the high season by working in partnership with other authorities we can provide a suitable infrastructure for the season.
“This will be provided through additional shuttle bus services in the Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) and Ogwen areas, temporary and permanent signage, pre-booking at Pen y Pass and a strong messaging campaign to encourage people to come during quieter times of the week and year to help spread the load.
“We need to remember that Snowdonia is a protected area where people live and work and we also recognise the countless hours the dedicated hard-working team of volunteers give to the area and appreciate their hard work and generosity.
“Over the Bank Holiday the SNPA and Snowdonia Society volunteers will again be picking up litter and providing support to help visitors make the best choices so that they can have the best time here.”
Cllr Gareth Griffith, Gwynedd Council’s environment cabinet member said: “With current travel restrictions to numerous non-UK countries, it is expected that a significant number will visit popular locations in Gwynedd and north Wales over the next few months.
“Like last year, we have been working closely with our partners to ensure measures are in place to protect our communities and to keep the public safe.
“Covid-19 has not gone away and it’s vital that the people follow the rules and respect our communities and environment.
“We encourage anyone who plans to visit Gwynedd to plan ahead and to ensure they park responsibly.
“Clear arrangements have been put in place in locations such as Pen y Pass and Ogwen to ensure that the areas are safe for everyone. Anyone who ignores these arrangements are likely to receive a fine and on some occasions, vehicles could be towed away.”
Superintendent Neil Thomas from North Wales Police said: “We continue to work closely with our colleagues across the local authorities and the National Park to help reduce the risk to walkers, cyclists and other road users.
“When restrictions were lifted last year we unfortunately saw dangerous, irresponsible and illegal parking which posed a risk to public safety in many of our beauty spots, including Ogwen and Pen-y-Pass.
“We appreciate that many people want to enjoy the bank holiday weekend and the predicted good weather, however it is essential that travelling to these areas does not adversely impact on others.
“So we are once again urging anybody who is considering visiting areas such as Snowdonia to be responsible and think about where they park, and to make full use of the park and ride facilities that are available.
Anybody found to be parking on the clearway or causing an obstruction will have their vehicle removed at their own expense. Patrols will continue throughout the bank holiday weekend and we’ll continue to work with our partners to ensure the rules are being followed.”