People who intend to use beaches in County Waterford for swimming and recreation this summer will have to pay for a privilage that, up to now, has always been free to locals and visitors alike.

In a shock announcement, released via e-mail yesterday (Monday), a spokesperson for Waterford City and County Council revealed that a range of charges would apply for people using the county’s main beaches this year.

The charges, which do not include parking, will apply from the beginning of May until October at Tramore, Dunmore East, Woodstown, Annestown, Boatstrand, Stradbally and Clonea Strand.

The spokesperson said details of the charges would be given at a later stage but The Munster

Express understands that a fee of €3 per person and €5 per family will apply. There will not be a time limit so the person who goes for a quick swim after work will pay the same as a person who stays all day.

As far as Tramore is concerned, it is understood the charges will not apply to the stretch of beach between the Sandhills and Molly’s T Bay and McCarthy’s Shop. Of course, parking charges will still be in force in all areas.

A source familiar with the plan told this newspaper that temporary fencing with turnstiles would be erected where possible. Some beaches will not have fencing but will be patrolled by Beach Wardens who will have the authority to issue spot-fines if a ‘paid-for’ ticket is not produced.

A resident of Ballymacaw, near Dunmore East, contacted us to say that their village was not included in the plan. “Obviously, we are pleased but we are fearful of being inundated with daytrippers from all over the place seeking to avoid the charges.”

When contacted, a spokesperson for the Council refused to comment until the matter was brought before the elected members at their next meeting.