Extra £4 million a much-needed lifeline for England’s National Parks

  • Contributor information: CNP

Children in the South Downs National Park

Campaign for National Parks have welcomed an additional £4.4 million Government bailout for National Parks in England which were facing an “existential crisis”. The Defra move shows that public pressure is working – Government is alive to the sheer value of National Parks. But National Parks need new powers alongside long term sustainable resources to deliver for the health of society and the natural world.

This result comes after vigorous efforts from Campaign for National Parks, National Park Societies and others in highlighting the scale of the crisis caused by successive Government cuts. Cuts which led to National Park Authorities – from Northumberland to Dartmoor – sounding serious alarms about their viability. Many are making desperate decisions – closing visitor centres, shutting down ranger services and selling off publicly-owned land.

We wrote to the Chancellor ahead of last year’s Autumn Statement, warning of the severe consequences that cuts were having on a vital frontline services, and we’re glad that the government have been listening.

The additional funding from Defra will see each of the ten National Park Authorities in England receive £440,000 by the end of this financial year. A further breakdown of funding for each National Park can be found below. The announcement also included a very welcome commitment to extend the Farming in Protected Landscapes scheme until March 2025.

In Wales, however, we expect funding to flat-line in the next financial year with no sign of any similar additional money coming from underspends in 2022/23. Although Welsh Government provided an additional £7 million in 2019/20 for designated landscapes, core funding needs to keep pace with rising ambitions and the expected delivery of a new National Park in North East Wales.

Commenting on the announcement, Chief Executive of Campaign for National Parks Dr Rose O’Neill, said:

Today’s bailout throws a much needed lifeline to our National Parks during desperate times – it must be the start of a new deal coupling greater powers with long-term funding.

We are pleased that the government have recognised the vital importance of these beloved national assets. With funding for Nationals Parks having fallen by 40% in real terms over the last decade, this uplift – amounting to around 10% of the overall annual budget – is hugely welcome. But it cannot be a one off. A properly funded National Park network – combined with new powers to drive investment from water companies and other bodies – is essential to sustainable economic growth, tackling the climate and nature emergency, and enhancing people’s health and wellbeing.”

The Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has publicly called for the creation of a National Park in his own constituency, but unless there is serious Treasury reform of the funding for National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs), he risks diminishing the Protected Landscapes network as a whole.

Today’s result highlights the vital role played by the public who have helped Campaign for National Parks and others in standing up for our Protected Landscapes, working tirelessly to ensure these unique places get the powers, resources and political backing they deserve.

Dr Rose O’Neill added:

The Government’s target to halt the decline in wildlife populations can only be achieved by prioritising nature in Protected Landscapes. Today’s funding and the extension of Farming in Protected Landscapes scheme to 2025 is a step forward. We look forward to continuing to press the government to ensure National Parks and AONBs have the powers and the resources they need to thrive for the future.”

Thanks to the efforts of Campaign for National Parks and other organisations, Lord Randall of Uxbridge has tabled an amendment to the levelling and regeneration bill with cross-party support taking forward key recommendations from the Glover Review of Protected Landscapes, which would see National Parks and other Protected Landscapes being given vital new power and duties so they can do more for nature recovery and people’s access. It is due to be debated in the coming weeks and we are calling for the Westminster government to urgently accept the proposals.

Funding breakdown for each National Park in England

2022/23 TOTAL Peak District South
Dartmoor Exmoor The Broads
National Park Grant (£) 48,762,405 6,698,847 10,486,201 5,229,801 5,589,927 2,672,927 3,251,501 4,381,726 3,825,865 3,211,532 3,414,078
Uplift with £440k (%) 6.57 4.2 8.41 7.87 16.46 13.53 10.04 11.5 13.7 12.89

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