Bill Bryson, Carol Vorderman, Caroline Quentin and others demand: double the number of school children visiting National Parks!

19 April 2019

Over 60,000 school children visit the National Parks each year and the Government has long promised increases to this number. Celebrities, led by a coalition of five charities, have now demanded urgent action to more than double the number of school children who get to visit the National Parks each year...

Dear Secretary of State,

2019 is an extraordinary year for our countryside as we celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act. The legislation created our National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and should be considered alongside the NHS as one of the great achievements of the post-war Government. For 70 years people across the country have had the benefit of a network of beautiful landscapes that are free, open, and accessible for all to enjoy.

In the 25 Year Environment Plan, the Government committed to improve access for young people to this national inheritance through supporting National Park Authorities to double the number of schoolchildren visiting and engaging with these beautiful landscapes to 120,000 per year. We welcome that commitment, but also believe it is vital that the ambition is not lost.

Over a year on from the launch of the 25 Year Environment Plan, and with the Government’s Year of Green Action ongoing, we want to know what steps are being taken to share our National Parks with the next generation.

National Park Authorities do a fantastic job welcoming tens of thousands of schoolchildren into nature. For many of those children this will be their first time under truly dark skies, their first time getting to climb a mountain or paddle a canoe. Shockingly it may be the first time they’ve seen a wild rabbit, kingfisher or even a sheep!

Through our own experiences, and visits with family and friends, we know that access to our most precious countryside at an early age sparks a life-long love of the environment and the natural world.  We believe all children should have the opportunity to experience the joy and wonder we have all found in our National Parks.

We also believe our National Parks offer wider benefits to society and that the next generation must be encouraged to take up those benefits. Time outside improves our mental and physical wellbeing – making us healthier as a society. National Parks offer us time with our family, friends or even simply our own thoughts.

You have spoken yourself of the rich cultural heritage that has been shaped by National Parks such as the Lake District, Dartmoor and the South Downs. You’ve spoken about experiencing the beauty of these incredible landscapes and being inspired by nature. It is absolutely vital that we share this with the next generation.

Therefore, in this anniversary year, the Government should go further and honour the spirit of the 1949 Act by committing to offer all children, regardless of where they live, the opportunity to visit a National Park while at school. This must be matched by a plan to facilitate this in the National Parks.

We are at the start of a new chapter in the history of this country. Please take up the challenge to forge a strong and loving connection between the next generation and the great outdoors

Signed

 

Carol Vorderman

TV presenter

Bill Bryson

Award winning writer

 

Caroline Quentin

Actress, president of Campaign for National Parks

Emma Bridgewater

Potter and artist, president of CPRE

Gordon Buchanan TV presenter and naturalist

Liz Bonin

TV presenter and naturalist

Stuart Maconie

Broadcaster, writer, president of the Ramblers

Sir Andrew Motion

former Poet Laureate

Lord Puttnam

Film producer and educator

Nick Miles

Emmerdale Actor

Alan Hinkes

Adventurer

Alastair Humphreys

Adventurer and TV presenter

Richard Mabey

Writer and broadcaster, vice president of the Open Spaces Society

Paul Steele

Writer and adventurer

Lizzie Daly

TV presenter and naturalist

Jules Howard

TV presenter and naturalist

Sophie Radcliffe

Adventurer and outdoors advocate

 

Campaign for National Parks

Campaign to Protect Rural England

Open Spaces Society

Ramblers

The Youth Hostel Association.