Secretary of State Michael Gove has opened the floor to views on how England’s 10 National Parks and 34 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) meet the nation’s needs in the 21st Century.
Farmers and local people have been told they must have a say on new National Parks for the first time in their 70-year history.
Secretary of State Michael Gove has opened the floor to views on how England’s 10 National Parks and 34 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) meet the nation’s needs in the 21st Century – part of writer Julian Glover’s recently-launched review.
It will also look into whether there is scope for the current network to expand, including input on how housing and transport in protected landscapes could be improved; the role they play in the UK’s cultural heritage; and how the areas can boost habitats for wildlife.
Mr Glover said the review had already pulled up some issues with local pressures.
He said: “From the Jurassic Coast of Dorset to the wilderness of the Cheviot Hills, they are still rich in beauty, local life, plants and animals – and enjoyed by millions of people.
“But already, in this review, I have seen the pressures too. Local people need jobs and housing, farmers who look after the landscapes need help to survive, and biodiversity is under threat as the numbers of things such as birds and butterflies decline.
“The good news is that I know we can do better – and in this review we are hearing lots of ideas about how to do it.
“Now we are offering a chance for everyone who loves our National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Beauty to have a say.”
Mr Gove said a call for evidence would explore how access can be improved and communities better supported for the more two million people living within half an hour of a National Park or AONB.
The review is one of the government’s key commitments in its 25-Year Environment Plan to better connect people with nature and ‘help wildlife to thrive’.
He said: “For so many of us our love for nature is intrinsically linked with our protected landscapes, from holidays spent in National Parks to weekend rambles across our Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
“We want to ensure the people who live, work in and visit these cherished places have a say in their future.
“As we look afresh at these precious landscapes, I look forward to hearing from everyone who shares an interest in conserving and enhancing them for the next generation.”
The call for evidence closes on December 18.