From Campaign for National Parks <[email protected]>
Subject News from Campaign for National Parks
Date August 27, 2020 3:59 PM
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** Time for some new National Parks
Much has changed since the first National Parks in England and Wales were created in the aftermath of the Second World War. But it is just as clear that access to nature has a huge role to play in helping us recover from the current national crisis. The added challenges of the climate and ecological emergencies mean that protecting and enhancing nature at a landscape-scale is even more critical now than it was then. That is why Campaign for National Parks has recently published a new position statement ([link removed](FINAL)%20CNP%20position%20on%20new%20National%20Parks(1).pdf) which calls for an improved network of designated landscapes, including new National Parks.

We are calling on the relevant Government Agencies - Natural England (NE) and Natural Resources Wales (NRW) - to adopt a more strategic approach to determining where new areas should be designated. We want NE and NRW to identify gaps in the existing network where landscapes could be restored in order to create future National Parks and to take a more proactive and urgent approach to considering potential new designations. There also need to be improvements to the designation process to make it quicker and less resource intensive.

While we are keen to see new National Parks, these must not come at the expense of the existing ones and so any new designation must be accompanied by appropriate levels of funding and a commitment to maintaining and enhancing the existing protections for designated landscapes. You can read our full position statement here ([link removed](FINAL)%20CNP%20position%20on%20new%20National%20Parks(1).pdf) .

(Photo of fog in the Peak District sun by Julia Travis)

** National Parks help improve young people’s health and life chances

The past months of lockdown have been a stark reminder that access to nature is vital for all communities’ health and wellbeing. Children and young people were among those most affected by Covid-19 restrictions.

A recent ONS survey found that 42% of young people felt that lockdown had made their mental health worse and that some were likely to experience long-term depression and anxiety as a result. Long before the current pandemic, rising obesity levels were a growing concern, with only one in four boys and one in five girls in England achieving the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity each day.

There is compelling evidence that regular contact with the natural environment can help address these challenges. Our National Parks play a vital role in connecting children and young people with nature and in enabling them to enjoy the great outdoors. Their work helps promote good physical and mental health and provides educational experiences and career opportunities.

From apprenticeship and junior ranger schemes to designing and building “wild play” areas, National Parks help develop resilient, more confident and independent young people. These schemes can also offer great value for money: the North Yorkshire Moors National Park’s Young Ranger and Explorer Club Programmes demonstrated that for every pound of investment created the equivalent six pounds in value for participants and society.

This and other examples from around the National Parks are showcased in the recent report on Youth Engagement, Health and Wellbeing: the Role of National Parks ([link removed]) .

(Photo of CNP's Mosaic youth project participants cycling in the Northumberland National Park by Liam Moss)

** How proposed planning reforms could benefit National Parks

On 6 August the Government published Planning for the Future ([link removed]) which sets out plans for a major reform of the planning system in England. These include proposals to change key aspects of the current system which have been in place for decades and which play a critically important part in the protection and enhancement of our National Parks and the well-being of the communities who live in them. But this document makes almost no reference to National Parks, a worrying omission given that National Park Authorities (NPAs) have responsibility for both plan-making and planning decisions in their area.

We have lots of questions about the proposed changes as there is insufficient detail to judge exactly what the Government is proposing in some cases. However, what is clear is that the Government should take this opportunity to address weaknesses in the current planning system by implementing some of the key proposals in the Glover Review ([link removed]) .

There is a consultation on the proposals which runs until 29 October 2020, so we shall be preparing our response over the next couple of months.

Meanwhile, the Welsh Government has published Building Better Places ([link removed]) which highlights how existing planning policies and tools can be used to help Wales recover from Covid-19. Among other things, this emphasises the key role that the planning system plays in securing green infrastructure and supporting nature's recovery.

** John Foster 1920 - 2020

As the first director of the UK’s first National Park, in the Peak District, and then as head of the Countryside Commission for Scotland, John Foster, who has died aged 99, was a pioneer of the protection and public enjoyment of landscapes in the UK. Kate Ashbrook looks back on his life here ([link removed]) .

** Further listening…
Have time on your hands over the Bank Holiday weekend? How about listening to some great podcasts!

New Forest National Park has created a new podcast about wild play ([link removed]) and having fun outdoors, to inspire families to explore nature.

Nature writer and novelist Melissa Harrison has a lovely podcast series called The Stubborn Light of Things ([link removed]) , about appreciating natural world from her Suffolk countryside base.

Greenhouse has produced a whole list of environmental podcasts ([link removed] ) to choose from. Which one is your favourite?

If you wish to write for Campaign for National Parks, do get in touch and email us at [email protected] (mailto:[email protected]) .

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