East Lothian Council

Coastal Car Parks

Published Tuesday 21st July 15

Sandy Beach

New charges for car parking at coastal sites have begun to come into operation.

If you are planning a visit to one of East Lothian’s popular beaches or coastal sites please be aware that you will have to pay to park. The charge is £2 per day and this allows you to park at any of the beach car parks throughout the same day. If you are a regular visitor you may wish to pay for an annual pass instead which costs £40.  

Blue Badge holders will not be required to pay charges.

Coastal car parking charges frequently asked questions

Q1. Why are parking charges being introduced to East Lothian`s coastal car parks? 

East Lothian’s beaches are one of our greatest natural assets. Keeping beach car parks in good condition and improving and maintaining facilities like toilets and showers is expensive, yet visitors to our beaches tell us they appreciate these facilities and would like to see more of them. With the council budget under more pressure than ever, there was a concern that the standard of our beaches, car parks and facilities would decline. We don’t want that to happen. So we have decided to introduce a reasonable charge for people who park their cars at our beaches. We know that this is not a decision welcomed by everyone but we hope that by keeping the charge reasonable and re-investing it into our beaches, people will see the benefits of the charge fairly quickly.  

Q2. How many coastal car parks are there in East Lothian? 

There are 13 sites designated as coastal car parks: Longniddry Bents Nos 1, 2 and 3; Aberlady Bay Local Nature Reserve; Gullane Bents; Yellowcraig; John Muir Country Park at Tyninghame Links, Linkfield and Shore Road; Skateraw; Whitesands; Barns Ness and Thorntonloch.  

Q3. Will parking charges apply to all the coastal car parks?

No, Aberlady Bay Local Nature Reserve, Skateraw and Thorntonloch will not be included at this stage because current figures show that these car parks are not used enough to warrant investing in the infrastructure required to start charging for parking.  

Q4. Will charging be introduced to these coastal car parks at some future date? 

A decision will be taken on this at a later date, considering any changes in visitor numbers and once the impact of charging at other car parks has been assessed.  

Q5. Why was a Traffic Regulation Order used to introduce the parking charges?

A Traffic Regulation Order is the only way to make it legal to charge people for off-street parking. It s not enforceable any other way.  

Q6. If people don`t want to pay the charge what`s to stop them parking on adjacent roads and streets?

The Traffic Regulation Order will include restrictions on surrounding roads where appropriate to prevent this from happening.  

Q7. Who will enforce the parking restrictions and the parking charges? 

Breaching the parking restrictions or not paying the charge will be a criminal offence so enforcement will be carried out by the police.  

Q8. What will the daily tariff be to park in the costal car parks? 

The daily charge will be £2 and this will allow entry of one motor vehicle. The ticket is then valid at any of the beach car parks for the rest of that day.  

Q9. Can I buy an annual pass and how much does this cost. 

An annual pass will cost £40 and will allow access of one motor vehicle in any of the car parks. This amounts to 11p per day for parking, spread across the year.  

Q10. Where can I buy an annual pass? 

In person

Local Area Offices in Haddington (Court Street), Musselburgh (Brunton Hall),  Tranent (George Johnston Centre), Prestonpans (Aldhammer House), Dunbar (Bleachingfield), North Berwick (School Road).  Payment must be made at the time of application.  A temporary ticket will be issued and season ticket will follow within 10 working days.


Purchase a season ticket from the council’s website.  

By Post

Send your completed application form and cheque made payable to: ‘East Lothian Council’ to:  East Lothian Council, Road Services, John Muir House, and Haddington, EH41 3HA. Do not send cash or card details through the post. Season ticket will be posted within 10 working days after cheque has cleared. 

Q11. How do I display a daily parking ticket or an annual pass? 

You must make sure your ticket or annual pass is clearly displayed in your vehicle while parked in any of the beach car parks (e.g. on the dashboard).  

Q12.  What if I lose my annual pass, can I get a replacement? 

Yes, you will need to report to the council that you have lost your pass. A replacement can be issued at a cost of £10. The expiry date on your new card will be the same as your old card.  

Q13. How many motor vehicles are covered by the annual pass? 

An annual pass can cover up to  two motor vehicles (including motorcycles)  registered at the same address, but only one will be able to use the pass at any one time. 

Q14. How can I pay at the coastal car parks? 

You must either display your annual pass or buy a ticket from the car park machines and display this in your vehicle. The machines currently only accept coins (no notes), however card payments will be available in the future.  

Q15. Who is exempt from car parking charges?

Blue Badge holders can park for free at all times on display of the badge. Breakdown vehicles will be exempt provided they stay no longer than an hour and do not cause any obstruction for other car park users.

Q16. The parking charges will apply to everyone using the coastal car parks. Why can`t the charge only apply to visitors from outwith East Lothian, with local residents being allowed to park free of charge?

European Law makes it clear that a two-tier system of charging residents and non-residents is discriminating and therefore illegal.  

Q17. What will happen to drivers who don`t pay the charge?

Non – payment of the charge is a criminal offence and is enforceable by the police.  

Q18. Why are you planning to apply the parking charges throughout the year when the main visitor period is during the summer? 

The coast is visited all year round, with peak visitor numbers in the summer, April to September. However, the numbers visiting during March to October are still significant and have been increasing over recent years as more people take part in water sports, bird watching, dog walking and other related outdoor activities. It is also the vision of the Coastal Tourism Strategy for East Lothian to create an integrated year-round coastal tourism industry.  

Q19. Once you`ve set the level of parking charge do you plan to increase the charge each year? 

The charge cannot be changed without amending the Traffic Regulation Order. It is proposed to review the Order after three years.  

Q20. Will there be designated parking spaces for disabled drivers? 

It is proposed where feasible to create a number of areas designated for disabled parking at some of the car parks where the parking surface allows this.  

Q21. Will the vehicle height restrictors remain in place once the parking charges are introduced? 

Yes. The vehicle height restrictors will remain in place.  

Q22. At present horse boxes and vehicles that carry water sports equipment on the roof park outwith the height restrictor barrier. Will this still be the case once the parking charges have been introduced? 

All vehicles making use of the coastal car parks will have to pay the fee whether they are parking beyond the height barrier or not.  

Q23. Under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2004 people have the right of responsible access in the outdoors, so how can you charge for access to the coastal sites? 

The charge is for parking within a designated parking area and the maintenance, management and operation of the on-site facilities, such as public toilets, provided by the council. There is no charge to access the beach and the surrounding countryside if you visit the coast by public transport, walking, cycling or horse riding, so the parking charge does not breach the Land Reform (Scotland) Act.  

Q24. There is a charge to book the barbeque area at Yellowcraig and John Muir Country Park. Will people attending the barbeque have to pay the parking charge? 

Yes. The charge only covers the hire of the barbeque area.  

Q25. What are the seasonal charging periods for the costal car parks? 

The charges to use the coastal car park will be seven days a week all year round within seasonal time periods:1st April to 30th September, 8am-6pm and 1st October to 31st of March, 8am- 4pm 

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