VISITORS to beauty spots face losing their free car parking as the council looks to make its countryside estate pay for itself for the first time.

Surrey County Council launched its Pay and Conserve parking consultation this week which is looking at charging people to use the currently free car parks at five countryside locations.

This includes Chobham Common, near Chobham and Sunningdale, which has five different car parks around the area. Depending on the outcome of the consultation all five of the Common's car parks - Jubilee Mount, Roundabout, Staple Hill, Monument, Fishpool, and Longcross - would introduce charges for the first time.

The council says it is having to save £100 million from its annual budget and its aim it to make 'the management of Surrey's countryside self-financing'.

Cabinet member for the Environment, Mike Goodman said: “This consultation is a vital part of our plans to preserve and improve Surrey’s beautiful countryside for years to come.

“We want to hear our residents’ views on what matters to them as we face the challenge of dealing with unprecedented budget pressures, particularly from rising need across our care services.

“With the council needing to save more than £100 million from its annual budget our aim is to make the management of Surrey’s countryside self-financing.

“Charging at our car parks could form part of that with those benefiting most contributing more so everyone can still enjoy the wonderful Surrey countryside we all value. The money raised would be ring-fenced to maintain and improve our countryside."

He added: “I hope residents will contribute to this consultation so they can help shape the decisions we have to make.”

The beauty spots are looked after by Surrey Wildlife Trust (SWT) on the council's behalf. The council said a proportion of the countryside estate was already footing the costs of maintaining them but there was still 'a gap'.

The council said: "SWT makes sure that paths can be safely used, dangerous trees and branches are made safe, sensitive habitats and species are protected and fly-tipping is removed.

"They also make sure residents can get to the countryside, which normally means providing somewhere for them to park...

"Without funding, parts of the countryside could become inaccessible, overgrown and littered. A car park on the countryside estate needs regular collection of rubbish, cutting back of the trees and bushes round the edges, and making dangerous trees safe. There are additional costs when repairs are needed after vandalism, when barriers need replacing, or when re-surfacing and other infrastructure work is needed."

Other beauty spots in the county that may charge for parking are Whitmoor Common in Worplesdon near Guildford, Rodborough Common in Milford,Wisley and Ockham Commons near Cobham, and Norbury Park near Leatherhead and Dorking.

The consultation closes on November 6 and can be found at