Stop the Cuts to National Park Authority budgets: Putting pressure on our prospective MPs in run-up to the election

~~We’ve been challenging MPs and peers since last September - through our Manifesto  - to ensure that National Parks remain beautiful and inspirational places that make a significant contribution to the economy.
We have been calling for the next Westminster Government to publicly reconfirm its commitment to National Parks by taking action to strengthen their protection; ensure that they get a fair share of resources and increase sustainable access.
In recent weeks we’ve met senior representatives from the main political parties to discuss our Manifesto and also the huge cuts to Government funding for National Parks, which have led to hundreds of jobs being lost, visitor centres closing, ranger services being cut and rights of way being neglected.
We’ve stressed why National Parks matter today – that they cost less than the price of a quality newspaper per year per head of population; that they bring in 90m visitors a year spending £4.6bn; that businesses in National Parks contribute £10.4bn to the economy in annual turnover; that 96 per cent of the public believe it is important to protect areas of the countryside from development.
Yet the insidious and chaotic nature of the cuts are bleeding National Parks dry. That’s why we’ve been calling for an immediate halt to the cuts on National Park budgets and a high level roundtable to look at sustainable, long-term future financial models.
We’ve been delighted that so many people – now more than 180,000 - have signed the 38 Degrees petition asking David Cameron to stop the cuts.
Julian Woolford, Campaign for National Parks chief executive, said with the election fast approaching, it was time for members to challenge prospective parliamentary candidates:
“We want an immediate stop to the Government cuts to our National Parks, which are putting at risk our most beautiful and valued landscapes.
“Now is the time for our members to put prospective MPs on the spot to ensure that they care about the long term future of our National Parks.”

We’ve got five questions that we’d like you to put to candidates:

• Will you support the hundreds of thousands of people who have been calling for Government to stop the cuts to National Park Authorities?

• Will you increase the opportunities for National Parks to benefit from targeted sources of funding?
We believe that National Parks must receive a fair share of the resources being allocated through Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) which should support job creation in high quality food production, landscape enhancement, visitor economy, green businesses, recreation and wildlife.

• Will you enhance the protection against major development in National Parks by bringing in stronger legislation?
The major development test is a well-established part of the planning process which makes it clear that planning permission should be refused for major developments in National Parks except in exceptional circumstances and where it can be demonstrated they are in the public interest. We want a stronger version of this test to be included in legislation.

• Will you invest in public transport, walking and cycling to, from and within National Parks?
We want the next government to make it easier for those without a car to visit National Parks. We think the Local Sustainable Transport Fund should be maintained until at least 2021 and be regularly reviewed so that it best meet the needs of rural users.

• Will you ensure that every school child is given an opportunity to visit a National Park?
Every school child should have an opportunity to visit a National Park. Broadening the criteria for existing funding for physical activity, so that it could be used for informal recreation as well as sport, would ensure schools were able to fund such vital visits.  

What else can I do?
You can sign up to the 38 Degrees petition to Save our National Parks. The petition asks David Cameron to stop cutting their funding and make sure National Park Authorities have enough money to protect our most iconic landscapes for future generations. You can access this at https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/page/s/save-our-national-parks#petition

You can support our campaign work as we challenge the serious threats that major development pose to National Parks by sending a donation. You can do this safely and securely at www.cnp.org.uk/donate or you can send a cheque to Campaign for National Parks, 5-11 Lavington Street, London SE1 ONZ
Please do let us know how you get on with your questions. You can email us at info@cnp.org.uk

• Media interested in learning more about our Stop the Cuts campaign should contact Communications manager Tony McDougal (Tel: 07766133788) or email him at tonym@cnp.org.uk