Harry Potter: Signs to stop people parking overnight at film site

Shell Cottage on Freshwater West beach. Photo: Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority Image copyright Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority
Image caption Freshwater was the backdrop for Shell Cottage in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Signs are being erected threatening fines for people parking overnight at a coastal beauty spot made famous in the Harry Potter films.

The National Trust wants to warn people they can be fined for leaving vehicles at Freshwater West, Pembrokeshire.

Its plans attracted 591 letters of objection and a petition with 8,000 signatures.

The Pembrokeshire Coast National Park authority voted to allow the signs for a trial period with conditions.

Freshwater West is popular with surfers and holidaymakers and provided the backdrop for scenes in the Harry Potter and Robin Hood films.

It is set in a conservation area, boasts orchids and rare birds and is regularly rated as among the most scenic beaches in Wales.

Those signing the petition described the move as a "money-making enterprise", with current signs only telling people they cannot park overnight.

New signs will make it clear that they can be fined if they do.

The National Trust argued there had been ongoing issues with people camping for free and leaving litter.

Image caption Current signs do not state that people can be fined - the new ones will tell people they can under a by-law

Councillor Tony Wilcox said the National Trust had made a rod for its own back by promoting the beach as a site for "blockbuster movies".

"Didn't you realise that this would be the result?" he asked.

"The National Trust would've profited handsomely, but now we have people coming here from all over the world to see Dobby's shellhouse."

Jonathan Hughes from the National Trust responded that the Freshwater West area was owned by several different organisations and the Harry Potter shellhouse was erected on private land.

Image caption Freshwater West is a protected conservation area for wildlife and plants

He said the trust had been trying for years to enforce the by-law regarding overnight parking at the site, using the existing signs and leafleting, but were ignored and often met with abuse.

However, he was criticised by committee members for not collecting data on the scale of the problem or giving details how the effectiveness of the new signs would be monitored.

One of the organisers of the petition, Rosie Manning from Pembroke, told the planning meeting the proposed new signs were hostile and unwelcoming, and that they would have a negative visual impact on what is a "stunningly beautiful" area.

The authority voted to allow the signs subject to further discussion about their height, design and location.

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