Drivers are outraged by new parking charges at Epping Forest, that could cost people as much as £6 per day.

Extra parking fees are soon to be introduced at car parks in the forest, which saw visitors almost triple during the pandemic.

The corporation first introduced fees at some of the forest’s car parks in spring 2021, including Chingford Golf Course and High Beach Visitor Centre.

Read more: Walkers voice dismay over introduction of parking charges in Epping Forest

Read more: Second phase of car parking charges in Epping Forest from November

The rest of its major car parks - which used to be free - will require fees from mid-November. These car parks include Broadstrood, Earl’s Path, and Strawberry Hill.

The new charges will apply seven days a week, and range from £1.50 for less than an hour to £6 a day.

Drivers can also buy an annual pass for £150 that can be used at all Epping Forest car parks.

Local resident Maria Shepherd, who often walks her dog in the forest, fears the fees will mean parts of it are only accessible to people with money.

Read more: Why car parking charges are necessary in Epping Forest​

She said access on public transport is poor and that the new charges are too high.

She said: “Public transport is absolutely dire. Buses are virtually non-existent.”

“A lot of the forest isn’t within walking distance of many households,” she added. “If people can’t afford to take their families up into the forest there’s going to be an increasing disconnect with nature.”

She continued: “What used to be a cheap excursion is now met with additional costs. The charges just seem excessive.

“For many people, £150 is a lot of money to fund up front.”

Simon Heap, a Green councillor for Epping Forest District Council, is also against the fees.

He said he understands the City of London Corporation, which manages the park, needs money to go towards maintaining the forest but the parking charges prevent the public easily accessing the space.

He added that there are great mental health benefits to being among nature.

Cllr Heap said: “A charge for parking pushes these benefits further from those least able to access the forest without a car. Or a family outing with a dog becomes a major consideration and potentially costly.”

He also said parking fees would be more acceptable if people also had access to a free electric bus to take them to and from the forest.

He said:  “If charges are thought to be vital, then public transport must be improved.”

A spokesperson for the City of London Corporation said: “Epping Forest as a registered charity relies on the public for income from car parking charges to help protect the people’s forest.

“Managing a busy forest with 4.2 million annual visits, alongside internationally important nature and heritage conservation projects, is a demanding exercise which costs £4.5 million to run each year, without the support of local taxation.

“Following a public consultation Epping Forest joins most other visitor destinations in charging people to park their vehicles while visiting the site.

“All charges are reinvested into managing the forest.”

A report revealed the number of visitors to Epping Forest more than doubled during the pandemic, with 11 million visitors in 2020/21, compared with the average annual figure of 4.2 million.