The chairman of the City of London Corporation’s Epping Forest and Commons Committee discusses why it is necessary to introduce car parking charges in the forest in his latest Guardian column.

May is a beautiful time of new growth and rapid change in Epping Forest.

Stark winter landscapes are left behind as we shift towards the full summer canopy with even the later budding trees, such as the oak, now regaining its full, green cloak of new leaves.

Birdsong is at its finest and an array of butterflies flutter from late blossoms to early summer wildflowers.

Change is also afoot for visitors this spring with the introduction of car parking charges in some of the busier car parks. Full details of which car parks are affected are on our website.

We recognise that this may at first seem an unwelcome change, but we hope our visitors will understand the need for introducing these charges.

The City of London Corporation funds the management of London’s great forest, which is a registered charity, to the tune of £4.5million per annum from its own resources, without support from local or national taxation.

The costs for running this ancient woodland increase year on year and there is a need to generate income.

Car parking charges are commonplace throughout the UK and Epping Forest will be joining most other visitor destinations in charging people to park their vehicles while they benefit from visiting them.

Arriving at the Forest on foot, by bike or public transport will still mean that your visit is free.

We wish to encourage this more sustainable access to the Forest - much of which is protected as a Special Area of Conservation and a Site of Scientific Interest - to reduce the impact of harmful vehicle emissions.

An annual car parking pass will be available for visitors at £150 (working out at £2.88 per week). Blue badge holders will continue to park free of charge.

Next week we are set to reach stage three of the Government’s Covid-19 roadmap, a milestone that we will all be pleased to see arrive.

This pandemic has been a hugely challenging time for us all, so taking this next step safely is important.

We must all keep up the good work for a little while longer and continue to follow the rules in order to keep control of the virus.

That includes continuing measures like social distancing while visiting the Forest.

We thank those visitors who continue to respect the rules and take their litter home to dispose of it responsibly there.

As we approach another bank holiday weekend, and the warmer summer evenings, please remember that barbecues and fires are not permitted anywhere in Epping Forest.

This is to protect the site from the very real risk of forest fires.

We hope you will continue to enjoy the wonderful natural landscapes found in Epping Forest as the weather warms up.

Discover more about Epping Forest at or on Twitter @CoLEppingForest, Facebook @Epping Forest City of London or Instagram @coleppingforest.

Graeme Doshi-Smith

Chairman, City of London Corporation’s Epping Forest and Commons Committee