Chapel Common

Save National Parks Manifesto

Wilder National Parks for All: Our manifesto calls for the 2024 general election

This Westminster election we are celebrating the 75th anniversary of the founding of National Parks in the UK. We want to see political parties, leaders and candidates recognise the importance of protected landscapes during the campaign and put forward a clear programme of action so National Parks can deliver for people, society and the planet in the next Parliament. In the face of climate breakdown, a nature crisis, growing inequality and a hollowing out of local communities, National Parks can play a vital role in tackling some of the biggest challenges the UK faces. 

1. Secure rapid nature recovery

National Parks are assumed to be the most nature-rich and protected areas in the UK, but only 6% of National Park land is currently managed and protected effectively for nature. Unique and precious habitats are under threat, and many species are at risk of disappearing entirely. That’s why we urgently need legislation to ensure National Parks are designated and governed for nature recovery.

2. End water pollution

National Parks contain some of the UK’s most treasured rivers and lakes. Despite their status as protected areas for nature, many water bodies in National Parks, like Lake Windermere, contain scandalous levels of pollution and sewage. We need new regulations to ensure water companies prioritise action and end water pollution in National Parks once and for all.  

3. Enforce the law, ban moorland burning and combat wildlife crime

We need new powers and enforcement to drive nature recovery and tackle climate change in our National Parks. This includes a commitment to ban moorland burning and commercial peat extraction, as well as licensing for driven grouse shooting and the use of vicarious liability for wildlife crimes. 

4. Open up National Parks to everyone, extending freedom to roam

National Parks provide huge health and wellbeing benefits, yet many people are unable to fully experience and explore these amazing landscapes. We want to see the extension of freedom to roam, supported by a 1000-strong ranger service, trials to expand backpack camping, and improved sustainable travel in and around the parks. 

We need to reform National Park governance and create new Citizen Assemblies to ensure equality in access and participation in decision making.  

Just 6% of visitors to National Parks are under the age of 25. That’s why we’re calling for every child and young person to have the right to discover a National Park, with an outdoor learning experience being a core part of the National Curriculum. 

5. A new deal for National Parks, doubling investment in the parks, farming and jobs

Cuts in Government funding over the last decade have forced the closure of vital services and the sale of public land. That’s why we want to see the doubling of National Park Authority budgets with a long-term funding commitment for the next decade, and a Nature Recovery Obligation to grow private sector investment. 

From lowland agriculture to upland grazing, farmers and land managers hold the key to restoring nature. That’s why we need to double the budget for nature-friendly farming and wilder land management, with a pay-rise for farmers and specific targeting for National Parks. 

We also want to see the creation of a National Nature Service creating green jobs, opportunities for training, volunteering and social prescribing with National Parks at the heart. 

6. A planning system which safeguards natural beauty and supports thriving communities

National Parks are the country’s most iconic and awe-inspiring landscapes, but they are under threat from inappropriate development. We need to retain and improve existing planning controls to ensure National Parks and their special qualities can be passed down to future generations. 

We also need to see effective regulation to control the negative impacts of holiday lets, Air B&Bs and second homes, so people and families can live and work in National Parks. 

7. Create new National Parks for nature on land and sea

As we celebrate the 75th anniversary of National Parks, we need reforms to accelerate the designation of new National Parks as exemplars for nature recovery, climate action and public access, and a commitment to create the UK’s first National Marine Parks. 

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