The government announcement on the Glover Review is a step in the right direction - but the hard work starts now
We comment on the government’s top line plans for the next steps for England’s National Parks and AONBs, welcoming some ‘positive signposts’ but spotting missed opportunities.
The government commissioned the Glover Review (led by journalist Julian Glover) to review the 70-year old protections that led to the creation of England’s National Parks and Areas of Natural Beauty (AONBs). A report came back in 2019 and today, ministers have released a statement with their thoughts on this. We comment on the response, calling it a ‘let down.’
The long-awaited statement from ministers features some promising elements such as funding for farmers to improve access on their land, but our CEO, Crispin Truman, says that the ministerial statement makes it ‘clear to see the importance of National Parks and AONBs to people, nature, climate and landscape has not been fully grasped.
Promising news on new and extended AONBs
There is some cause for celebration in the statement. In response to the Glover report, which urged better joined-up management of, and expansions to, the country’s protected landscapes, Natural England – the body that advises the government on the natural environment – has announced some new plans. Two existing AONBs, in the Surrey Hills and Chilterns, will be extended, and Natural England will consider the possibility of two whole new AONBs in the Yorkshire Wolds and Cheshire.
We’re pleased to hear this, especially as we campaign for everyone to be able to access countryside near home and, as Crispin says, ‘both of these designations would be near to people living in towns and cities, improving access to outstanding landscapes.’
We also think that the newly announced farming in protected landscapes programme is a golden opportunity to plant and restore hedgerows, supporting nature’s recovery in these landscapes. But we need to see environmental and planning policies pushing in the same direction if we are to address the climate and nature crises.
‘Our evidence also shows that a developer-led planning system with centralised housing targets has driven up pressure on these nationally important areas, particularly in the south. So there’s a long way to go before these areas help meet the government’s target to protect 30 per cent of land for nature by 2030.’
‘A letdown with one or two silver linings’
Reflecting on the statement on the Glover Review, Crispin summarises it as ‘a letdown with one or two silver linings. We’re glad to see some positive signposts but it’s concerning that the government does not appear to have the huge ambition needed to deliver lasting improvements and a brighter future for these designated landscapes.’
At CPRE, we’ll keep calling on the government in developing its full response to the Glover Review. We want to see a greater level of ambition for lasting improvements and a better future for these special landscapes – and we’ll keep campaigning for this.
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