A new system of car parking fees is being proposed for visitors to Sliabh Liag – one of Donegal’s most iconic attractions on the Wild Atlantic Way.
Three car parks are being proposed for tourists accessing the stunning cliffs in south-west Donegal.
Beginning in March 2020, costs could range from €2-€5 per hour and €10-€15 per day parking, while buses transporting tourists to the upper car park closest to the cliffs will pay between €45 and €99 by the year 2022.
Sliabh Liag currently attracts more than 160,000 visitors a year and a €4.95 million Strategic Development Project is underway to create a Transportation Hub and Visitor’s Centre for the signature point.
The public is being asked to share their views on the new bye-laws which would set the car parking controls and fees.
The draft bye-laws would ban cars, motorbikes or other vehicles from driving to the top car park at Sliabh Liag. Only buses, mini buses and disability parking will be provided at the upper car park.
Two cars parks are in development for all other visitors. A ‘Transportation Hub Car Park’ will be located at the new Sliabh Liag visitor centre, containing 76 Car parking Spaces (incl. 5 disabled spaces) and five coach parking bays. Plans are in place for a shuttle bus to bring visitors to Sliabh Liag from this centre.
The proposed parking costs would be €2 per hour or €10 per day at the Transportation Hub Car Park.
Closer to the cliffs, a Ranger Car Park will provide 53 car parking spaces (incl. 2 disabled spaces) and two coach parking/turning bays. The costs are expected to be €5 per hour or €15 all day.
Parking fees for the Upper Car Park will be €45 for a mini bus and €99 for a bus up to 33 seaters. The charge will be introduced on a phased basis. With 2020 being the first year of these Bye Laws, a special discount of 66.67% will be applied to the (normal) parking fee. A discount of 33.33% will apply in 2021 before the full fee is introduced in 2022.
The proposed bye-laws and development of the Sliabh Liag visitor experience intend to improve the sustainability of the site, as visitor numbers are expected to increase in the years to come. New facilities such as the visitor centre, cafe, story stones and the new mountain path have been designed to improve the tourist experience and attract more visitors.
However, some members of the public have expressed fears that parking charge will deter people from visiting the beauty spot, which has been free of charge for so long. Other locals are concerned that vehicles will park on roadsides to avoid paying fees.
The public is being encouraged to share all views on the project with submissions to the council before 23rd December.
Local councillor Niamh Kennedy said it is important that people look at the bigger picture.
“I would encourage people to put in a submission to inform planners on the best method on how to go about this. These are draft bye-laws that are open to all considerations,” Cllr Kennedy said.
Cllr Kennedy pointed out that money generated from the parking fees will be put back into the local area.
She said: “This is important to note. The parking will create revenue to pay staff at the visitor centre, the interpretation, cleaning and toilets. And any money on top of that will go back into the local area, the same as it does with car parks in Donegal Town and Bundoran, etc.”
A number of concerns have been raised by locals and tour companies, which Cllr Kennedy said are important to consider.
“Some questions need to be answered appropriately as they are a cause for cautious concern. Obviously we have to be very careful and understanding of locals in the area. Some locals have been expressive about campervans coming past their driveways and the sides of the roads being parked on. And we have had a number of submissions sent to us from different transportation and private car companies,” Cllr Kennedy said.
With all submissions being taken into consideration, Cllr Kennedy said: “We need to be looking at the bigger picture for the entire area.”
She added that the entire area of Teelin and will benefit from the strategic project, “if it’s done properly.”
Cllr Michael Naughton, also based in the Donegal MD, said that it is important that the project accommodates both visitors and locals.
“At the end of the day Sliabh Liag is our biggest asset in the south of the county and we need to make sure local people are being looked after as well,” Cllr Naughton said.
“If you look at the Cliffs of Moher and the Giant’s Causeway – nobody minds giving a euro or two to the upkeep for toilets and a standard for people. I don’t see a big issue of one or euros being added on for parking if it all going back into Sliabh Liag and it gives an experience.”
A copy of the draft Bye-Laws is available on http://www.donegalcoco.ie/services/roadsservice/roads%20service%20public%20consultation/sliabhliagcarparks/
Representations made in relation to the draft Bye-Laws must be made in writing to the Council not later than 12.00 noon on Monday 23rd December 2019, which will then be considered by the Council. Such representations should be addressed to the Parking Section, Donegal County Council, Letterkenny Public Services Centre, Neil T Blaney, Letterkenny, Co. Donegal.Tags: