New National Parks

We’re campaigning for new and enlarged National Parks and new opportunities to connect more people with natural beauty.

Here are five reasons for New National Parks in England and Wales:

1. Conserve and protect important natural and cultural heritage 

The first of two National Park purposes is to “conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage” of the area.

To achieve this purpose each National Parks has an authoritiy (NPAs) which are legal bodies charged with conserving and protecting their specific Park. They work in partnership with stakeholders and deliver programs such as species reintroduction, tree planting strategies, education and community engagement and so much more.

Cultural heritage preservation programs and nature conservation projects in National Parks are also a great way to protect historic sites, promote cultural awareness and restore certain habitats.

2. Protect and enhance natural assets

National Parks are not just beautiful spaces but they also make an essential contribution to our national natural assets and help us to meet environmental targets. For example, peat and woodland store carbon helping the UK to meet carbon reduction targets, moorland peat helps to clean our water and they protect habitats for species to thrive.

National Park designation also means that public bodies such as water companies and Forestry England legally must take account of the impacts their work will have on the Parks in all their decision-making, meaning they should be doing more to conserve and protect these areas. Additional planning protections in National Parks also place more restrictions on inappropriate development and activities that could harm these incredible natural landscapes.

3. Stimulate the local economy  

National Parks make a vital contribution to local economies through visitor spending and employment opportunities generated through tourism. The Valuing England’s National Parks report in 2013 highlighted how English National Parks alone contribute between £4.1 and £6.3bn to the UK economy.  

Outdoor activities such as hiking, cycling and wildlife watching also promote visitor spending and National Parks are often attractive places to host events. 

Beyond tourism, sustainable farming and resource management means that National Park status being applied to local produce and products benefits the local economy. Conservation projects and subsidies also bring benefits to local jobs in farming, conservation, research and land management.   

4. Create places of quiet enjoyment and tranquility 

The second purpose of National Parks is to “promote opportunities for the understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of the National Park by the public.”

Working with local communities and businesses, NPAs can help promote quiet enjoyment and tranquility by engaging volunteers and staff in conservation and visitor management activities which help maintain peaceful environments.

The special qualities of a National Park are diverse and unique to each Park. Many people find different ways to enjoy them, and the wilder remote areas of a National Park provide space for contemplation and reflection as well as inspiration and education. Outdoor education and health and wellbeing opportunities are a core part of what National Parks can offer.

5. Boost and encourage responsible access to the countryside

Through education, infrastructure, regulation and partnerships, National Parks can positively influence the ways in which people access and enjoy the countryside.  

Visitor centres provide information about nature, cultural heritage and responsible behaviour in the Parks, with National Park Authority staff available to advise and educate. With investments in clear signage and ‘access for all’ programs, more diverse people with different needs can access the Parks without barriers.

Volunteer programmes bring people together to actively maintain the Parks alongside rangers who provide support for groups or individuals and improve the way in which the public responsibly access and appreciate nature and rural areas.  

Castell Dinas Bran

Castell Dinas Bran

A new National Park in North East Wales

The wheels have been set in motion to create a new National Park in the north east of Wales based on the existing Clwydian Range and Dee Valley National Landscape.

This would be a fourth National Park for Wales, and the first new National Park to be established in Wales since 1957.

Fives reasons why the area is important

North East Wales is full of stunning landscapes, communities, species and heritage all worthy of inclusion in the new National Park. The special qualities and history are clear to see if you’re lucky enough to spend some time exploring the area, and whether it’s in the north on Gronant Dunes or the Berwyn Range in the south, there’s plenty to treasure and protect for future generations.

We’ve highlighted just a few of the sites that make the new National Park a unique and exciting place to visit:

1. Ceiriog Valley

South of the Vale of Llangollen and 20km in length, the Ceiriog Valley was once described by the British Prime Minister David Lloyd George as “a little bit of heaven on earth” and we’re inclined to agree. Quiet villages populate the valley through which the River Ceiriog flows. Narrow drovers’ roads are in abundance alongside ancient hedgerows and traditional farmland.

2. Gronant Dunes

A designated site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) Gronant sits to the west of the River Dee estuary on the northern Welsh Coast. The area contains Wales’ only breeding colony of little turns as well as a whole host of species from natterjack toads, sand lizards, sea holly, marram grass and rare dune grasses. A popular spot for birders and sun-bathers alike, the dunes are a truly special area to visit.

3. Berwyn Range

A wild, rugged and distinct landscape covered largely in heather and bracken, the Berwyn Range is home to iconic raptors such as the hen harrier, merlin and peregrine. Much of the landscape is designated as a Special Protection Area due to the importance it has for birds. A series of summits peak at 832m on Cadair Berwyn which can feel as wild and untamed as anywhere in neighboring Eryri National Park.

4. Sycharth, Llansilin

North East Wales is packed with history and stories of invasion and rebellion. Sycharth near Llansilin on the border with England is known as the birthplace of Owain Glyndwr (Prince of Wales) in 1354. Owain Glyndwr led a 15-year rebellion against English rule in the Medieval period and the earthwork remains of this motte and bailey castle is just one great way to take a step back in history in the area.

5. Pontcysyllte Aqueduct

Situated in the existing Clwydian Range and Dee Valley National Landscape the impressive Pontcysyllte aqueduct is a truly unique experience for those taking to the water. Built in 1805 it is the longest aqueduct in Britain and the highest in the world at 38m. Stunning views are afforded across the valley whether you’re cruising or taking in the towpath by foot. The Grade 1 listed structure is a UNESCO world heritage site and a hugely popular destination for those visiting the area.

Questions about the new National Parks

We've put together some answers to any questions you may have on new National Parks.
Welsh Government set out its intention to designate a new National Park in North East Wales based on the existing Clwydian Range and Dee Valley National Landscape. Research is currently underway to identify exactly what area is suitable for designation. The proposed boundary will be included in a public consultation in Autumn 2024 and the final decision will be for Welsh Government.
Natural Resources Wales (NRW) is the Welsh Government’s statutory adviser on landscape and the body responsible for designating any new National Parks in Wales. Any area being considered for designation as a National Park is assessed in detail and must pass certain tests set out in legislation. These include assessments of natural beauty and opportunities for open-air recreation. NRW have agreed the maximum geographical extent for the potential National Park and are undertaking the relevant assessments which will inform the proposed boundary.
The role of a National Park Authority (NPA) in the UK is to manage, protect, and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife, and cultural heritage of the National Park as well as supporting opportunities for people to enjoy and understand these special places. National Park Authority boards include a mix of both locally and nationally appointed members who use their expertise and experience to ensure that the park is managed effectively. These boards are responsible for setting policies, guiding management practices, and ensuring that the parks’ objectives are met.  NPAs are also the local planning authority for their area.
The simple answer is that it is more complicated than you might initially think. Statistically, house prices in National Parks are higher than surrounding areas, but attractive areas of countryside are typically higher than other areas, so you could expect that areas designated for their natural beauty would be statistically higher and follow the national trend. Parallels can be made with typical house prices in other areas of coast or countryside that are highly sought after for their location and natural beauty. A short study on house prices inside National Parks concluded that designating a national park “may have a small influence on house prices initially but does not necessarily cause any significant increases in house prices over the longer term.”
Some beauty spots within the current area of search (such as Moel Famau) already experience high levels of parking and traffic. Designating the area as a National Park will provide new opportunities and resources to manage these impacts and encourage increased use of alternatives to the car. Visitor management strategies have been successfully implemented in Eryri National Park around Yr Wyddfa and with a dedicated National Park Authority able to work in partnership with local communities and stakeholders, actions can be taken to ensure that everyone is able to enjoy these places without any detrimental impact on nature or local communities.   
While there are some variations in the planning policies which apply to National Parks, these are generally aimed at preventing inappropriate major developments which would damage these areas. Additional permissions may be required for changes to existing properties, but this will not necessarily mean they won’t be allowed. NPAs in Wales approved 85% of the planning applications they received in 2017 (the most recent year for which data is available).
Investing in National Parks provides a healthy return on investment, bringing net economic benefits through employment, tourism and savings on public health and wellbeing. The Valuing Wales’ National Parks report showed that Welsh National Parks receive “12 million visitors each year spending an estimated £1bn on goods and services.” NPAs recruit and coordinate over 15,000 hours of volunteering activity each year wit a value in the region of £175,000. The National Parks also sequester carbon through their peat and woodland, the value of which is estimated to be between £24.4m and £97.2m. NPAs have received £10.48m in core grant funding for 2024/2025 which represents just over £3 per person in Wales.  
National Landscapes and National Parks are both important types of protected landscapes, but they differ in how they are managed as well as the level of resources they receive. National Parks have their own dedicated National Park Authority, whilst National Landscapes are managed by partnerships of local authorities and stakeholders. National Parks typically have more resources and staff to manage conservation, recreation and education, and although both are funded by central government, with more resources and staff this new National Park will be able to achieve more for the benefit of the area.
The proposed area is already a popular area for visitors from across Wales and England to visit. Designation as a National Park will not necessarily attract lots more people but it should ensure   more resources can be provided than are currently available.
Investing in National Parks provides a healthy return on investment, bringing net economic benefits through employment, tourism and savings on public health and wellbeing. Visitors contribute substantially to the local economy through spending on accommodation, food, activities, and transportation. Estimates suggest that tourism in Welsh National Parks generates over £500 million annually.
The benefit of establishing a National Park Authority is that there will be additional funding and resources available (more than is currently available in the National Landscape and surrounding areas) to coordinate strategies and partnerships which will tackle some of the challenges already present in many rural areas and communities. Many of these issues are already in evidence in hotspot areas and popular destinations.
Local authorities have an important part to play in the delivery of the National Park’s objectives and will be represented on its Board.
There are multiple benefits for farmers living and working in National Parks. For example, farmers in National Parks may have access to specific grants and funding (such as Farming in Protected Landscapes in England) which promote sustainable farming practices. Other agri-environment incentives for farmers in Designated landscapes may also be established through the Sustainable Farming Scheme which is currently being developed by Welsh Government. With a greater focus on tourism and wider promotion of the area, there will be other opportunities to sell products direct to tourists or via local businesses catering for visiting tourists. The association with the National Park could also enhance the branding of farm products and allow farmers to market their goods at a higher price. Collaborative projects are also more likely to occur in National Parks with conservations projects with the National Park Authority and other environmental groups encouraged. Farmers may be able to increasingly diversify to meet the needs of the National Park, and there will also be lots of opportunities to preserve and protect traditional practices.  

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