HEREFORDSHIRE Wildlife Trust is to increase parking charges at the Queenswood Country Park and Arboretum at the end of the month.

The new charges will be £1.50 for parking for up to one hour, £3 for parking for up to two hours and £4 for parking over two hours.

Charges for vehicles such as campervans and coaches will remain unchanged, a spokesperson for the Trust said.

The park, on the A49 between Hereford and Leominster, used to attract close to half a million visitors each year when it was free to visit.

Parking charges provide the finance for running the 170-acre site, which was taken over by the Trust, in conjunction with New Leaf, at the end of 2015 when public funding ended.

"Nobody wants to pay for parking," said Tupsley father of two Patrick Shave.

"I appreciate that money is required for the upkeep of the facilities but increasing charges stops it being a universal right to visit green space and creates a privilege.

"It also creates a situation where people will choose to visit other recreational areas, like Haugh Woods, where it's free to park and visitor numbers will drop.

"I also would like to know what percentage of the money raised by parking goes into the pockets of the monolithic parking company that manages it."

The cost of running Queenswood is estimated at £150,000, two thirds of which was raised by parking charges in the last financial year, making the current business model unsustainable.

The Trust has price compared with parking charges at similar destinations (The Malvern Hill Trust, Cannock Chase Forestry Commission) and states that the running costs of Queenswood are around £421 a day.

They say that all car parking fees raised go towards the running of the site.

Since taking on the running of Queenswood the Trust has installed a Gruffalo Trail and Nature Tots playground with plans for further improvements including car charging points, reopening the visitor centre and opening a local food hall.