Readers have shared their views after a nature reserve moved to introduce car parking charges at its visitors centre, but scrapped the entrance fee.

RSPB Rainham Marshes announced car parking charges at the Purfleet visitor centre from January 8, but said entrance to the marshes will be free.

The move from The Rainham wing of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), a conservation charity, was met with strong views.

"You won't see as many people then," said Matt Dove. "Anything to make money."

Steve Andrew joined Matt in criticising the move.

"Another place to boycott," he said. "Motorists do not exist to fund everything."

But Stephen Cox pointed out the changes would actually save people money.

"As usual, a lot of ranting without finding out the facts," Stephen said. "For example, an adult non-member entrance fee currently [at] £6 will be replaced by a scale of parking charges with a maximum of £5 for all-day parking."

RELATED NEWS: Rainham Marshes in parking charge move but entrance fee axed

Lisa Parrish added that as a charity in hard times RSPB needs to make money.

"I discovered Rainham Marshes in lockdown and its been, for me, one of the best local finds in that time.

"Support our local spaces," she said.

Car parking charges per vehicle for two hours and above - up to an entire day - will cost £5 from January 8, the charity said.

But the £6 entrance fee for non-member adults will be scrapped.

"Parking will remain free for RSPB members and Blue Badge holders," RSPB Rainham Marshes added on Facebook.

Philip Woolford, another reader, pointed out that parking charges will only apply to the visitor centre, not at other car parks nearby.

But not all were convinced and said the move would deter them.

Dru Lucas said: "I have always tried to use the RSPB shop [...] even though I could get it cheaper elsewhere as it’s good to support these charities.

"I won’t be paying to park just to use the shop, [but] I can see why it’s being done."

The charity had said income from parking charges was "vital" to looking after the reserve and its wildlife.

People can pay via a phone app, or at the visitor centre.

Milo Sumner, senior site manager for RSPB Rainham Marshes, said he understood that some will be frustrated at the change, but said it was the fairest way to fund nature conservation work site maintenance.

"We are not seeking to generate profit or to punish motorists," Mr Sumner added.

Mr Sumner also said that shop customers will be able to use a small number of parking bays for free for 20 minutes.

"RSPB members can park for free and this can cost as little as £6 a month, compared to £5 a day for parking," he added.