From Campaign for National Parks <[email protected]>
Subject News from Campaign for National Parks
Date October 30, 2020 8:59 AM
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** Planning for the Future of National Parks
We have now submitted our response to the Government's Planning White Paper ([link removed]) which proposes a major shake-up of the planning system. As well as setting out our views on the Government's proposals, our response highlights the elements of the current system which are important for National Parks and which we are keen to see retained, such as having dedicated planning authorities with the right balance of locally and nationally appointed members.

There is almost no reference at all to National Parks in the White Paper and the key role that planning plays in helping to protect and enhance these areas. There is also insufficient recognition of planning's role in helping to address the climate and ecological emergencies. Our response also:
* raises significant concerns about a number of the proposals including plans to simplify Local Plans and speed up decision-making which would significantly reduce the ability for communities to influence local development proposals;
* stresses the importance of having local policies in order to protect the locally distinctive features that contribute to the landscape character and special qualities in National Parks; and
* argues that the Government needs to take a different approach to increasing housing supply including doing more to require developers to build the housing for which permission has already been granted.

We also call on the Government to use reform of the planning system to implement a number of the proposals from the Glover Review which would help strengthen planning protections for National Parks, as discussed in the blog ([link removed]) we published last month.

You can read our full response to the Planning White Paper here ([link removed](FINAL)%20CNP%20response%20to%20planning%20for%20the%20future%20consultation(1).pdf) .

(Photo of houses in the Yorkshire Dales National Park by CNP)

** Disappointment at Arundel Bypass Decision

Earlier this month, Highways England (HE) announced ([link removed]) their preferred option for a bypass of Arundel on the edge of the South Downs. Although the route they have chosen (the 'Grey' option ([link removed]) ) avoids any new road-building within the National Park itself, it will still have a significant impact on the Park as it includes a long section of new dual carriageway just outside the boundary. The new section of road crosses a flat open landscape on an embankment. It will create noise pollution and visual intrusion across this area and within adjacent areas of the Park. It will also damage sensitive wildlife habitats, making it harder for species to move around the area and will have a negative impact on a number of villages.

We are hugely disappointed that HE have completed failed to consider options other than dualling to address congestion around Arundel. Along with many other national and local environmental organisations, we have long been calling for HE to place more emphasis on sustainable transport options here. In response to the most recent consultation a year ago, we supported a proposal put forward by local campaigners for a 40mph wide single carriageway to be built instead of a dual carriageway.

As well as being very damaging to the Park, the 'grey' route is extremely expensive (it is estimated to cost up to £455 million) and even a fraction of that budget could make a huge impact if used to support sustainable transport. Given the impacts of the pandemic on our working and travelling patterns, and in light of the climate and ecological emergencies, we believe this is the wrong decision and that HE should be reconsidering the potential for less damaging options in this location. As this blog ([link removed]) from last year explains, road building is not the answer.

(Photo of Kithurst Downs from Arundel Park in the South Downs by Richard Reed)

** Urging Government to respond to the Landscapes Review

We have joined forces with other NGOs including the National Trust, the Wildlife Trusts, CPRE, the RSPB, Open Spaces Society, Ramblers, Nature Friendly Farming Network and YHA to urge the Government to publish its response to Julian Glover’s Landscapes Review ([link removed]) .

A year on from the Review’s publication, we believe that its recommendations are more relevant than ever.

Covid-19 has highlighted how much access to high-quality natural environments matters to the nation’s health and wellbeing. The pandemic’s disproportionate impact on Black and ethnic minority as well as other disadvantaged communities also reminded us yet again of the urgent need to deliver on diversity and equality issues.

At the same time, it remains critical to address the nature and climate crises.

We believe that National Parks and AONBs can and should play a leading role in a green recovery. Together, these landscapes currently cover a quarter of England’s landmass, and a substantial proportion of the most important habitats for driving nature’s recovery and locking up carbon. They also make an important contribution to local economies and have the potential to engage all parts of society with nature, beauty and our shared heritage.

Most importantly, designated landscapes build on a collaboration of wide range of partners and stakeholders and are uniquely placed to reach out to all sections of society.

The Landscapes Review notes that many National Park Authorities and AONBs have demonstrated ambition on these matters but also sets out what is needed to enable these landscapes to live up to their full potential for people and nature.

You can read our full letter to the Rt Hon George Eustice MP, Secretary of State for the Environment, Food & Rural Affairs Read here ([link removed]) .

(Autumn photo from the Dartrmoor National Park by CNP)

** Further autumnal reading…

Dr Pat Thompson, senior policy officer for the RSPB, writes about the controversy surrounding grouse shooting ([link removed]) .

Wales is under a national firebreak lockdown, but one can always dream... When next in the Brecon Beacons, why not visit its (geo)park within a Park ([link removed]) ?

Photographer Pete Collins shares his tips for capturing the amazing dark skies of National Parks on camera ([link removed]) .

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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