North East Post
A Voice of the Free Press
1:02 AM 24th January 2024

Grassroots Campaigners Tell Westminster Parties, Put National Parks At The Heart Of Your Plans For Government

Image by Tim Hill from Pixabay
Image by Tim Hill from Pixabay
To celebrate the 75th anniversary of the founding of National Parks, the nine National Park Societies from across England have signed a joint-letter calling on political parties to put forward bold manifesto commitments at the next UK election to revitalise protected landscapes.

The letter, organised and co-signed by Campaign for National Parks, highlights the vital role that National Parks can play in tackling the nature, climate, health and societal crises facing the UK, if properly supported by an ambitious programme of action at the next Westminster election.

The National Park Societies and Campaign for National Parks have published an eight-point manifesto programme to secure the long-term health of the parks, which includes every child to visit a National Park as part of the national curriculum, greater regulation of Airbnb and holiday lets in National Parks, and the introduction of visitor levies where appropriate to manage tourist numbers.

Commenting Dr Rose O’Neill, Chief Executive of Campaign for National Parks:

“Like The Beatles and the NHS, National Parks are world renowned and represent the very best of our nation. They are a source of wellbeing, adventure and connection with nature for millions of people. But as we celebrate their 75th anniversary, scratch the surface and a different picture emerges.

National Parks face a host of threats; destruction of wildlife, the effects of climate change, and a growing divide when it comes to who can live, work and visit these places.

Politicians hold the key to rescuing National Parks, but they are sitting on their hands. That's why campaigners from across the country have come together to demand much-needed action at the next election to renew National Parks. From health and affordable housing to green transport and the economy - National Parks can be part of the solution if political leaders step up to the challenge.”

The National Park Societies said:

“In the face of climate breakdown, a nature crisis, growing inequality and a hollowing out of rural communities, National Parks can play a vital role in tackling some of the biggest challenges the UK faces.”

The full letter has been sent to the leader of every Westminster political party with an MP in England. Signatories on the letter are Campaign for National Parks, The Broads Society, Friends of the Lake District, North York Moors Association, Friends of the Dales, The Exmoor Society, Friends of the South Downs, CPRE Peak District and South Yorkshire, Dartmoor Preservation Association and Friends of the New Forest. The asks were agreed at the National Park Society Conference at the end of last year.

The full manifesto asks are as follows:

1. A long-term commitment restoring government funding to pre 2010-levels

2. Every child to have an adventure in a Protected Landscape as part of the National Curriculum.

3. Water companies to prioritise stopping river and lake pollution in National Parks

4. Greater financial rewards for farmers’ efforts to restore nature in National Parks

5. Effective regulation to control holiday lets and second homes

6. Stronger powers to manage visitor numbers and implement visitor charging as needed

7. Improve sustainable travel in National Parks through car charging and other schemes where appropriate

8. Retain and improve existing planning controls within National Parks, including removing them from freeport zones and retaining permitted development right exemptions