Our iconic landscapes: will they get the money they need?

15th January 2022

We’re urging the government to put its money where its mouth is in its plans to implement the Glover review of some of our most iconic landscapes: National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs), to which CPRE contributed.

CPRE is very pleased that some of what we want to see in terms of access and strengthening AONBs is backed by the government in its response to the 27 recommendations made in the original review. However, we also wanted to see more progress made on ensuring every child spends a night in the countryside and for it to be embedded in the national curriculum.

What the review was about

The independent review into the future of National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty was commissioned by the government from an independent panel led by writer Julian Glover, who travelled the country learning about what works and what can be improved so that these places are even better in the future.

The government has now announced how it intends to approach the review’s recommendations.

Must consult

Significantly, the government agrees AONBs should have more say about planning in their areas. This includes managing authorities being consulted about any big planning proposals within their borders. It also says that the strong planning protection for National Parks and AONBs must continue.

There is also support for amending the statutory purposes (legal requirements) for National Parks and AONBs to include ‘nature recovery’. CPRE believes this will help enhance and improve the land in these areas so that they are better for nature and help tackle climate breakdown.

Access and relax …

We want the government to do more on making sure everyone has better access to these fantastic areas of the countryside and are pleased they recognised that the wording on their purpose to provide recreation could be stronger on access – and should be extended to AONBs. The government has said it will convene stakeholder meetings during the consultation about similar moves on diversity and public health.

Commenting on the government response to the Glover Review, CPRE chief executive Crispin Truman, said:

‘These are positive steps in the right direction towards making our most amazing landscapes even better in the future. There’s clearly no lack of ambition but what is conspicuously lacking is the government funding needed to actually deliver these ambitions.

‘A big priority must be greater access to our national parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty for people who don’t currently benefit. To achieve this, every child should have the right to spend a night under the stars as part of the national curriculum. We must ensure everyone is encouraged to enjoy the full breadth of nature, to the benefit their physical and mental health now and in the future.

‘It is time for real action to create an even brighter future for our national parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty so that everyone – in every part of the country – can access the healing beauty of nature. We’ve done the first lap, with strong recommendations to boost nature and strengthen planning in AONBs, which will further protect these landscapes from inappropriate development. The government must now put forward funding and legislation to turn rhetoric into action.’

The government’s announcement kicks off a 12-week consultation, to which CPRE will respond.

National park walkers follow a path through ferns
Walkers in the Peak District National Park

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