River Itchen

Our history and achievements

Fighting for National Parks for over 80 years

Picture yourself in a National Park – do you imagine a sense of freedom, spaciousness and natural beauty? Luckily today we’re all able to explore some of the most beautiful areas of our countryside. But this wasn’t always the case.

During the early 20th century, following years of industrialisation and the growth of urban settlements, people began to want access to some of Britain’s stunning landscapes. So in 1936 a group of dedicated outdoor enthusiasts got together to ensure that some of the most precious parts of our countryside were preserved for everyone to enjoy.

Our founders (including representatives from the RamblersYHACPRE and CPRW) worked tirelessly and thanks to their efforts, the Standing Committee on National Parks (now us!) was born and the 13 National Parks in England and Wales have been created over the following years.

For over the last 80 years we’ve been campaigning to strengthen the powers of National Parks, been vigilant in monitoring the Parks against damaging developments and promoted National Parks for the enjoyment of everyone.

But our work isn’t over yet – find out what we’re doing now.

Here are some of our key achievements:


2023: Government responding to our long-running campaign for an amendment to the Levelling Up and Regeneration Act giving National Parks new powers to accelerate nature recovery and improve access.

2022: New Perspectives project supports young storytellers to share their experiences

2022: Welsh Government commits to the first new National Park in 60 years in North East Wales


2019: The Glover review of England’s designated landscapes is published, taking on board many of Campaign for National Parks arguments to propose a better future of the National Parks in England.

2018: Our flagship reports on improving car-free access to the National Parks and improving nature in the National Parks were published.

2016: After many years of working with groups in National Parks, our fantastic project, Mosaic came to an end. We’re extremely proud that through the projects, over 30,000 people visited a National Park, many for the first time. This work isn’t over though – see how we are continuing to make the Parks Accessible for all.

2016: The Lakes to Dales extensions were official! A proud day for Campaign for National Parks and everyone else involved. More info

2015:  Success for our Stop the Cuts campaign as over £350 million of funding for English National Parks, AONBs and public forests was protected.

2014: We secured an exemption to stop barns being converted into houses without planning permission in National Parks.

2012: After years of campaigning we were extremely pleased that Ofgem agreed a £500 million allowance to be used by National Grid in protected areas to find alternatives for pylons in National Parks.

2010: Finally! After a very long campaign, the South Downs was confirmed as a National Park.


2009: We celebrated the news that plans to build the controversial A628 Mottram Tintwistle bypass in the Peak District had been withdrawn. We’d been battling against this for over 30 years.

2005: We were over the moon that with the help of our campaigning, the first National Park of the 21st century was designated: The New Forest.


1999: It felt like our hard work was finally going to pay off – we were all fingers crossed that the South Downs and New Forest would be designated as National Parks after the deputy prime minister said the Countryside Agency should consider these areas for National Park Status.

I have been involved in several environmental charities but my work with the Campaign (then Council) for National Parks in the 1990s is amongst the most memorable and rewarding, and helped to secure enduring protection for these special places and greater independence from local government

guest blog by Lord Norrie

1995: National Park Authorities became independent authorities – something we had led the parliamentary campaign on for a number of years with our vice presidents, Lord Norrie and Sir Chris Bonington.


1988: Hurrah! We were involved in the Broads Bill which gave the Broads National Park equivalent status.


1977: We changed our name – but not our intentions – from the Standing Committee on National Parks to the Council (and now Campaign!) for National Parks.

1974: The National Parks Policy Review Committee made a recommendation of the Sandford Principal – stating, “where irreconcilable conflicts exist between conservation and public enjoyment, then conservation interest should take priority.”


1968: The Countryside Act was passed – a real success for recognising the importance of our natural spaces.


1950s After years of hard work, we were delighted that the first National Parks in England and Wales were designated. By the end of the 1950s, 10 National Parks were established: the Peak District, the Lake District, Snowdonia, Dartmoor, Pembrokeshire Coast, North York Moors, Yorkshire Dales, Exmoor, Northumberland and the Brecon Beacons.


1949: Finally! We celebrated our first success – the passing of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 which enabled the designation of National Parks.


1936: On the 26 May 1936, we held our first meeting lobbying for National Parks to be established.