For the sake of our future, we must retain existing laws and enhance nature protection in our National Parks and Protected Landscapes

  • Contributor information: CNP

Coniston Lake by Harry Johnson

(Image: Coniston, Lake District National Park, by Harry Johnson)

Campaign for National Parks is deeply concerned about the fate of National Parks and protected landscapes in England.

Following the UK Government’s u-turn lifting the fracking ban in England, proposals to weaken planning protections, Freeports and new investment zones, the UK Government looks set on a deeply worrying deregulatory agenda – cutting our very life support and risking the natural assets that underpin our economy. Rumours at the weekend suggested the Government was questioning the future of Environmental Land Management: a policy that is absolutely critical to supporting farmers enhance nature across the landscape, and safeguard rural economies. Thankfully, the Welsh Government is standing firm on its commitments.

While it still seems like many decisions have still yet to be made, now is the time to stand up for nature and the future of our National Parks.

Campaign for National Parks is campaigning for strengthening the laws and policies that protect what we have and accelerate nature recovery. It is crucial that we do both: in a climate and nature emergency, we cannot afford to standstill or to go backwards. The stakes are too high.

Strengthen powers for Protected Landscapes and Protected Areas – don’t remove or undermine them

We are working with parliamentarians and partner NGOs to get clarity on Freeports and Investment Zones, seeking explicit assurances from the Government that proposals will not undermine existing protections for protected areas and protected landscapes. Instead, opportunities for growth must be secured only on the basis of working with nature, harnessing green infrastructure and driving nature recovery, in-line with legal commitments made only last year in the Environment Act. Environmental recovery and investment in natural infrastructure should be a key tenet of any proposed investment zones.

Protected Landscapes contain half of our most important wildlife and nature sites – protected by key laws such as the Habitats Directive and the Water Framework Directive that have been enshrined into UK law and must be retained and not weakened.

We have been working to secure improvements to legislation for Protected Landscapes, proposed by the Glover and Marsden reviews and by Defra earlier this year, to prioritise nature recovery and require greater action. Such changes are essential to meeting international and domestic legal commitments on climate and nature, there is no hope of securing ‘30% of land for nature by 2030’ – a pledge made on the international stage – without them. These strengthened laws are essential to securing the economic long-term future of protected landscapes.

Strengthen support for farming with nature to support growing rural economies

Delays or u-turns to long-planned and widely supported rewards for farmers to restore nature would be disastrous for Protected Landscapes. Instead, the UK Government should build opportunities for growing rural economies, learning from its highly popular Farming in Protected Landscapes pilot, which has seen farmers coming together to drive innovation. Farm diversification that includes providing greater access to nature will see billions of pounds of return, reducing the mental health burden on the NHS.

It’s time to campaign

No doubt, we will work together in the coming days to ensure we retain existing laws and enhance nature protection in our National Parks and Protected Landscapes. We will be sharing our concerns with parliamentarians and it would help greatly if you also write to your MP. You can pledge your support, and sign up for more information on how you can support future actions here: