27 September 2016Parking at Stonehenge during the Summer Solstice
Why did we introduce a parking charge?
In recent years there has been a huge growth in people and cars coming to the World Heritage Site to celebrate the Summer Solstice. In 2000, approximately 10,000 people attended the Solstice celebrations while in 2014, the figure was close to 40,000.
To protect Stonehenge and to keep the Summer Solstice special, English Heritage introduced a number of new changes this year, intended to make the occasion greener and more enjoyable for everyone.
One of these changes was a parking charge of £15 per car, designed to encourage more people to use public transport or to car share and to make best use of the limited parking facilities.
We are a charity
English Heritage is a charity, and every penny generated at our sites works hard to protect and care for the nation's heritage. The income from the Summer Solstice parking charge allows us to recover a small proportion of the £300,000 that facilitating safe and sustainable access for solstice costs us. This money would otherwise be spent on the upkeep of Stonehenge as well as the other important prehistoric places, castles, abbey ruins and industrial sites in our care, many of which are open to the public for free.
"Pay to Park" not "Pay to Pray"
English Heritage is committed to maintaining open access to the stones and we have no intention of introducing an entrance fee to the monument during the solstice celebrations. The Summer Solstice parking charge is not a "pay to pray" but a "pay to park" charge. A wide range of people enjoy coming to Stonehenge for Summer Solstice and all of those who drive there, are charged a parking fee - just as they might be if visiting other sites, whether religious or not.
A greener, better Summer Solstice
Something had to be done with the ever increasing number of cars at Summer Solstice or we risked losing what makes these celebrations so special.
Since we introduced the changes, we've had a lot of support from the public and from across all the different groups (including the pagan and druid community) who help to organise the celebrations.
Our parking charge encouraged more people to travel by more sustainable means such as public transport or car shares - a poll conducted throughout the night of solstice revealed that almost 60% of respondents did car share.
Our changes including this parking charge are helping us to better look after both those attending the solstice and the ancient monument itself.