Cheers for New Forest National Park's tenth birthday but action urgently needed on Lakes-Dales National Park extension and a halt to budgetary cuts

The Campaign for National Parks today welcomed the celebrations around the tenth anniversary of the creation of the New Forest National Park but criticised the Government for its inaction over the Lake District-Yorkshire Dales extension and the huge budget cuts facing Park authorities.
Julian Woolford, Campaign for National Parks Chief Executive, said he was delighted that Defra had shown real interest in celebrating the tenth anniversary of the creation of the New Forest National Park.
Mr Woolford said the New Forest had provided a green lung for people living in the heart of southern England and had embraced CNP’s Mosaic Youth project, enabling scores of 16-25 year olds to get involved in a National Park for the first time.
“It majestic woodlands, rare heathland and a spectacular coastline provide fabulous opportunities for recreation, enjoyment and discovery,” he said.
The New Forest National Park has been working with Verderers and the Forestry Commission to deliver the largest agri-environment scheme in England, amounting to £19m over ten years; has funded since 2006 132 projects, benefitting 58,000 people through its Sustainable Communities Fund and discovered 3,500 archaeological sites thanks to its high-tech “Lidar” mapping technology project.
But Mr Woolford added that Defra had been particularly reticent about making any decision on the Lake District – Yorkshire Dales extension even though a Public Inquiry made its recommendations to the Department in Autumn 2013.
“It is indefensible for Defra to continue to say that the Inquiry report is still sitting on the desk of the Secretary of State Liz Truss nearly 18 months after it was delivered.
“The final consultation showed that 93 per cent of respondents supported the extension and we believe that it is now critical that the Secretary of State takes a positive step for the environment and extends both National Parks.
“This will provide the environmental protection that these areas need, ensuring they are protected now and for the future.”
The tenth anniversary celebrations come at a time when the National Parks are facing some of the most significant cutbacks in their history, resulting in job losses, cuts in ranger, volunteer, engagement, education services and rights of way work.
National Park budgets have fallen from £47.8m in 2009/10 for nine National Parks in England (1) to £35.5m in the current financial year, and Parks face a further cut in 2015/6.
“If these cuts continue unchecked, National Parks will be little more than planning authorities, and Authorities will not have the resources to protect our most iconic landscapes for our children and grand-children,” he said.

Notes to Editors
1 Further details about the history behind the Lake District-Yorkshire Dales extension and our campaigning work can be found at www.cnp.org.uk/lakes-2-dales-campaign
2 The National Park budget statistics are based on nine England National Parks because the South Downs NPA had not been created in 2009/2010.
3 Further information can be obtained from Tony McDougal, CNP’s communications manager – tel: 07766133788 at tonym@cnp.org.uk