Yorkshire Regional Seminar - Change of date

Due to the General Election, the Yorkshire & Humber regional seminar has been postponed from 9th Dec to Wed 15th January at North Yorkshire County Council.  Invitations to follow!

Defra launches review of National Parks

The government has launched a review to see if there is scope to increase the number of England's National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Beauty (AONBs).

An independent panel will look at how these specially designated landscapes meet the 21st century needs of rural communities, the environment and local economies.

Defra said the review would ensure designated landscapes were fit for the future nearly 70 years after National Parks and AONBs were first established.

Weakening or undermining their existing protections or geographic scope will not be part of the review, said the department.

Instead, it would focus on how designated areas can boost wildlife, support the recovery of natural habitats and connect more people with nature.

Defra secretary Michael Gove said: “The creation of National Parks almost 70 years ago changed the way we view our precious landscapes – helping us all access and enjoy our natural world.

“Amid a growing population, changes in technology, and a decline in certain habitats, the time is right for us to look afresh at these landscapes.

“We want to make sure they are not only conserved, but enhanced for the next generation.”

The Peak District became England's first National Park in 1949.

Today, the mountains, coastlines and moorlands of the nation’s 10 National Parks and 34 AONBs attract more than 260 million visitors a year from at home and abroad.

Led by writer Julian Glover, the review will explore how access to these landscapes can be improved – and how those who live and work in them can be better supported.

Mr Glover said: “Our protected landscapes are England’s finest gems and we owe a huge debt to past generations who had the wisdom to preserve them.

“The system they created has been a strength, but it faces challenges too. It is an honour to be asked to find ways to secure them for the future.

“I can’t wait to get started and learn from everyone who shares an interest in making England’s landscapes beautiful, diverse and successful.”

The review was welcomed by National Parks England and the National Association of AONBs, which both said they intended to plan a full part in working with the review panel.

National Parks and AONBs cover a quarter of England’s land and are home to over 2.3m people – with more than 66% of the population living within 30 minutes of a designated landscape.

They generate over £20 billion for the rural economy, and support 75,000 jobs.

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