Last week a notification was printed showing that the National Trust has submitted planning applications – 1880/17/FUL and 1883/17/ FUL – to South Hams District Council to install pay-and-­display machines on Bolberry Down and at South Milton Sands.

What many people may not know is that this is part of a national drive to increase ­membership by whatever means possible. The planning portal on SHDC’s website shows that both are listed as being submitted on June 29 2017.

In addition to the environmental impact if these are approved, this is a measure that will ultimately damage the health of local people.

I live on Bolberry Down, so paying fees does not affect me directly, but I know many local pensioners who visit the area on an almost daily basis, either to sit in their cars and take in the beautiful sea views or to take a stroll around one of the only flat pieces of ground in the area, with undoubted benefits to their health and well-being.

Installing pay-and-display machines is part of the National Trust’s business model, usually employed at its country houses to drive people to purchase membership with the incentive of free parking.

This is part of a long-term strategy to recoup exponential profit, as it believes that, once they are members, people are more inclined to visit other sites and spend more money.

What it fails to acknowledge is that this move is imposing a class system on the coast and countryside, which is becoming divided between those who can afford to pay and those who cannot. In most cases, this will affect local pensioners and low-income families, many of whom cannot afford the parking or membership fees.

It is morally repugnant to put increased profit before people’s health and well-being and is just plain wrong.

If you oppose these planning applications, you need to make your objection known by August 11, so I urge everyone to please take the time to write to SHDC’s planning department, referencing applications 1880/17/FUL (Bolberry Down) and 1883/ 17/FUL (South Milton), or go to the website to comment.

Matt Walker

Bolberry Down, Malborough