CPRE recommendations adopted by Glover review of National Parks and AONBs

11th October 2019

What if every child had the opportunity to visit a National Park and spend a night under the stars?

That’s one of the recommendations of an independent review into the future of National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs).

The review was commissioned by the government but produced by an independent panel led by writer Julian Glover, who travelled the country learning about what works and what can be improved in the management of and access to our most iconic countryside.

We submitted a series of recommendations to ensure more people can access these stunning landscapes and secure the future for our AONBs – and many of these have been adopted by the review! Here are the three things you need to know.

A girl and woman walk a dog through ferns in a green landscape
Enjoying a walk in Northumberland National Park

Access for everyone

The review says that there needs to be a stronger mission to connect all people to National Parks and AONBs. It highlights that their overall popularity masks large differences in who actually gets to enjoy them.

Our own research found that 36% of England’s population live too far from the current network of 10 National Parks and 34 AONBs to easily access them, with almost half of the most socially deprived areas of the country falling outside of the accessible range.

We think these astounding landscapes should be experienced and enjoyed by everyone, so we absolutely agree that more needs to be done to improve access for all.

We also think it’s important that children get to experience these wonderful places, instilling a love for them from a young age. The Glover Review recommends that every child should spend a night under the stars in a National Park or AONB. We think this should be embedded in the national curriculum.

Stronger AONBs

We’ve campaigned for many years for AONBs to be strengthened and recommended several ways this can happen. Although National Parks and AONBs share stunningly beautiful landscapes, AONBs have had little say on what development takes place in their areas, and have much less funding.

So we’re very pleased that the Glover Review agrees, and recommends that they should be given additional funding and a greater say on development in their areas.

Of course, there is hard work ahead to ensure that the Glover Review will result in a stronger future for England’s 34 AONBs – and we’ll be at the forefront of this.

An economic purpose for National Parks and AONBs?

There are currently two stated purposes for National Parks: to conserve and enhance natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage and to ‘promote opportunities for the understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of national parks by the public’.

The Glover Review says that these landscapes should do more for the communities who live in them and suggests that there should be a new purpose to ‘foster the economic and community vitality of these areas’.

While the intention is good, we’re concerned that adding an economic purpose could inadvertently put these landscapes at risk of inappropriate development.
We’re keen to see sustainable development, such as truly affordable homes to support local communities, as long as it takes place in the right places and doesn’t compromise the natural beauty of our National Parks and AONBs.

What happens next?

We’ve taken a close look at the final report, and are considering how to pursue the recommendations, both as part of CPRE’s campaigns and in partnership with other organisations.

A government response is expected in the coming months, and we’ll be doing our utmost to ensure that these astounding landscapes are even more beautiful and vibrant in the future, accessed and enjoyed by everyone.