"We can’t pretend the conflicts don’t exist" Julian Glover speaks out on the review of designated landscapes

18 October 2018

Head of the Government's review of Englands AONBs and National Parks addresses the Park Protector Award reception about his one-in-a-lifetime review.

It’s a real relief – as someone who’s worked in politics – to be in the House of Commons talking about something useful and positive…with apologies to the MPs here.

…although I think that maybe next year we should try to hold these awards in a national park.

Maybe I’ll offer my home in Derbyshire in the White Peak.

Or there’s my favourite secret place in England, Nordy Bank on Brown Clee in Shropshire…

…although that’s in an AONB not a national park. At least not yet.

Everyone wants to hear who’s won.

But just let me say three things before then.

First, it’s a great honour and pleasure to be involved in a review that will report 70 years after the inspirational law passed in this building that created our first national parks.

They matter to me like millions of others – I’ve been walking, riding horses, camping, cycling in the hills almost since I was born.

What we have in this country is magnificent and it’s thanks to the efforts of so many committed people including the Campaign for National Parks and lots of you I’ve already met around the country. So thank you.

Julian Glover addresses the Park Protector Award

Julian Glover addresses Campaign for National Parks' annual Park Protector Award.

Second, we’ve done well but we can do even better.  Parks can be more beautiful, enjoyed by more people, better for biodiversity, more supportive of local people – so you [Campaign for National Parks] are all right to campaign for that.

I don’t represent the government or Defra – but I get the sense there are people there who are serious about making a difference. So let’s try to make the most of that opportunity.

Third, there’s a difference between passion and polarisation in that debate. I think we are only going to get to better things if we recognise the precious complexity of our parks – which as you know are like nowhere else.

A population the size of Coventry live in them. People farm in them and shape the landscape – and have for thousands of years. Millions visit them. And there are threatened plants and animals.

Not to mention pressure from development, traffic, climate change.

I knew about this before I began the review but talking to people – and from Cornwall to the Cheviots so far I have met as many as possible, alongside a really great and experienced panel – brings it home.

We can’t pretend the conflicts don’t exist and parks have to deal with them every day but that doesn’t mean we can’t deal with them.

A farming policy that puts parks and AONBs first, funds farming but does it to make the landscape and environment better not worse would be a good start.

But so would something else – which these awards are part of – not running down what happens but boosting it and seeing our great protected landscapes as part of a common whole, which is what they were set up to be in 1949.

Maybe since then all those local pressures mean that national mission has got a bit lost.

Anyway, that’s for the future.

Today we are here for the awards – and thank you to the Ramblers Holiday Charitable Trust for sponsoring this one, I know Stephen Ross is here today.

So enough from me.

The shortlisted entries are:Julian and Caroline Quentin presents the Park Protector Award

Helping hands – Snowdonia National Park 

Pondhead trust - New Forest National Park

Discovering the Esk - North York Moors National Park 

Opening up Emsworthy Mire – Dartmoor National Park 

White Peak woodlands - Peak District National Park

And the winner is Opening up Emsworthy Mire – Dartmoor National Park 

Congratulations.

Click here to read about Campaign for National Park's work on the Glover review.