National Parks England, speaking on behalf of the ten English National Park authorities, welcomes the government’s statement on National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs)

Andrew McCloy, Chair for National Parks England said: “The Secretary of State has recognised the important role our most precious landscapes play for the nation, supporting people, places and nature.

“National Parks have been critical in helping the nation recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We have welcomed more visitors than ever before, supported our local communities, and demonstrated that green spaces benefit health and wellbeing. Together with our communities, partners and visitors we aspire to build a brighter future for the country, more resilient to climate change, with an abundance of wildlife and amazing places for people to both live and visit.

“We agree that more funding should be directed towards nature’s recovery in protected landscapes. This moment is a crucial opportunity for the government to provide long-term investment for the nation’s most special places.

“This is particularly important for the Farming in Protected Landscapes programme, which we hope will ensure farmers and land managers are well positioned for the new environmental land management schemes that will be introduced from 2024.  The Farming in Protected Landscapes programme will give farmers and other land managers the opportunity to work with National Parks and AONBs, providing the support needed to promote nature recovery, mitigate the climate emergency, increase opportunities to access and enjoy these landscapes, and provide high quality food and fibre, while running a viable and sustainable farm business.

“We note the intention to review national and local structures and the desire for greater strategic direction nationally. In this context we welcome the Government’s recognition of the importance of local leadership in delivering National Park purposes.

“National Park Authorities (NPA) lead and bring together partnerships for our special places, using local knowledge, understanding and connections to deliver national priorities and supporting globally important action. NPAs are key to generating both local action and delivery on the ground, and to ensuring accountability – this is vital to our role as ‘place shapers’ and for partnership working.

“We look forward to continuing our work with farmers, land managers, Defra, Natural England, colleagues in Protected Landscapes, and many other key partners to tackle the climate emergency, ensure our beautiful landscapes are there for everyone, sustainably manage land, and focus on nature recovery – the cornerstones of National Parks England’s priorities over the next decade.

“Since 2019 National Parks have been making great progress in delivering against many of the proposals in the Landscapes Review.  We have published four detailed delivery plans which highlight our ambitions. We look forward to responding to the government’s consultation.

“The demand for contact with nature for health and wellbeing through the Covid-19 pandemic has taught us that – as we forge a greener, healthier future – the National Park network is a beacon of hope, needed as much as much it was when established alongside the NHS 70 years ago.”