Rural groups react to national park review

Rural businesses say the government's review of national parks could fuel economic growth in the countryside.

But countryside conservation campaigners argue that ensuring landscapes remain properly protected should be a government priority.

The review – which could see the number of national parks and designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) – was announced by the government last month.

See also: Defra launches review of national parks

Country Land and Business Association president Tim Breitmeyer said boosting economic growth and productivity in designated landscapes should be at the centre of the review.

“Designated landscapes are crucial to the wellbeing of the nation, providing opportunities not only for visitors but most especially for those who live and work there,” he said.

Crucial challenge

“We look forward to contributing to the review.

“The crucial challenge is to strike the right balance between ensuring designation that delivers natural beauty, alongside encouraging the right types of economic activity.

Together, this more positive balance will sustain these areas and create thriving communities, said Mr Brietmeyer.

“Most businesses within designated landscapes experience significant opposition and hostility to development of any kind.”

Success would see more landowners, users, park authorities and conservation boards working together to identify opportunities to deliver sensitive development, said Mr Breitmeyer.

This could help improve the use and enjoyment of these unique areas, he added.

Two-thirds of people in England live within 30 minutes of a National Park or AONB, with visitors contributing more than £6bn each year to the local economy.


Emma Marrington, senior rural policy campaigner at the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), described the review as “potentially game-changing”.

It was an opportunity to shine the spotlight on national parks and AONBs – and to consider whether there should be new additions to the current network of designated landscapes.

But it was also important that existing National Parks and AONBs were well resourced and able to deliver their responsibilities effectively.

“This includes by ensuring they continue to have the highest level of planning protection in the revised national planning framework,” said Ms Marrington.

"We look forward to working with Government and the independent panel to create a brighter future for England’s National Parks and AONBs.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to ensure our finest landscapes remain just as beautiful for the benefit of current and future generations."


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