Defra have set out plans to boost nature recovery and safeguard England's iconic national parks.
The proposals, which will be subject to consultation, are set out in the Government’s response to Julian Glover’s independent Landscapes Review which looked at whether the protections for National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) are still fit for purpose. The Government’s response sets out ambitious changes to increase access to nature and ensure protected landscapes can deliver more for climate, nature, people and places for the next 70 years and beyond, as we build back greener from the pandemic and level up all parts of the country.
The 12-week consultation will also ask for views on proposals to drive nature recovery within our landscapes and support for the communities that live and work within them, such as the design and delivery of new agri-environment schemes and an ambitious management plan for each area.
This announcement forms part of the Government’s wider action to recover and restore nature, delivering on the pledge within the 25 Year Environment Plan to protect 30% of the UK’s land by 2030 and commitments to achieve net zero by 2050.
The CLA will be responding to the consultation in due course, but expressed concern that these proposals ‘fly in the face’ of the levelling up agenda, and will prevent sensible and sustainable economic development in areas in desperate need of investment.
Country Land and Business Association President Mark Tufnell said:
“This announcement is a missed opportunity for the countryside. Designated areas make an important contribution to maintaining our national identity and rural heritage, protecting the countryside from unnecessary and undesirable development. Yet all too often they can be used to hold the countryside back from sensible and sustainable development, depriving those who want to live and work in rural communities of the chance for a good home and a good job. We know that young people are leaving these areas due to lack of opportunity, taking their talents with them. Nothing in this announcement will entice them back.
By viewing the countryside purely through an environmental lens, Government is missing out on significant economic and social opportunity – which flies in the face of its supposed Levelling Up agenda. Put simply, the countryside is not a museum and Whitehall should stop treating it as such.
“We strongly encourage the Government to show some ambition for the countryside - including supporting businesses in designated areas. Allow us to protect its inherent beauty, but help us to create jobs, share prosperity and strengthen communities at the same time.”