Government promises full response to Glover Landscapes Review ‘later this year’

  • Contributor information: CNP

24 June 2021

The Government today finally released a Ministerial Statement on the Glover Landscapes Review, following repeated calls from Campaign for National Parks and others to act on the Review’s important recommendations.

Campaign for National Parks has been calling for the Government to implement some of the recommendations from the Glover Landscapes Review since it was first published almost two years ago and were hoping for significant news this week, but were left somewhat disappointed again.

Together with our partners (including National Trust, RSPB, The Wildlife Trusts, Ramblers and more), we’ve been pushing for action to ensure National Parks are better protected and believe that many of the Glover recommendations would help achieve this – but each month that passes is a missed opportunity.

National Parks and the Climate Emergency

Today’s statement included some promising lines such as: ‘The Government agrees that more funding should be directed towards making space for nature and supporting nature’s recovery in our protected landscapes.’ It cited the project funding it made available through the Green Recovery Challenge Fund (only a small portion of which found its way to National Parks).

However, we know that piecemeal project-based funding is not the answer in the absence of an effective, adequately-resourced delivery infrastructure. National Parks need consistent multi-year funding settlements not only to cope with the influx of visitors since the pandemic hit, but also to innovate to mitigate against and tackle climate change (read more in our National Parks and the Climate Emergency’ report released this week). Instead, English National Parks are facing another year of real-term cuts with a flat cash rollover. Thankfully, the Welsh Government stepped up with a much-welcome 10% uplift for National Parks in Wales.

Despite a wider focus on the climate crisis with the UK hosting G7 summit and COP26 this year and the Prime Minister speaking about the importance of nature, wildlife and biodiversity in earlier speeches, National Parks are rarely mentioned explicitly by the Government, yet they hold the key to tackling the climate emergency. It’s time that the Government recognised this and acted upon it – investing in the country’s greatest natural assets, enabling them to play a leading role as we build back greener.

More accessible National Parks

Campaign for National Parks has long been campaigning for more accessible National Parks – both in terms of physical access (sustainable transport, rights of way etc.) and removing more invisible barriers (such as via our Mosaic project, which engaged several thousand members of underrepresented communities to get to know and enjoy National Parks). This was not given the prominence it needs in today’s statement; Natural England Chair Tony Juniper raised the question of how more can be done to bring nature and people closer together, but no widescale solutions were given.

According to the statement, the Government agrees that we should do more to support public access to protected landscapes; it unveiled a new Farming in Protected Landscapes programme, additional project-based investment to allow farmers and other land managers to work in partnership with National Park Authorities and AONB teams to improve public access. We welcome this programme as one small part of the action needed to ensure our National Parks are truly resources for all.

Potential new designations

The Government confirmed that the designation of four new areas were under consideration, in addition to new National Nature Reserves (NNRs): Yorkshire Wolds and Cheshire Sandstone Ridge will be considered for status as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty alongside extensions to the existing Surrey Hills and Chilterns AONBs.

The Government says this has the potential to deliver over 40% of the additional 4,000km2 required to meet the UK’s commitment to protect 30% of our land by 2030, which under UK leadership at the recent G7 Summit, all G7 members have now signed up to. But this does not take into account the urgent need to improve nature in the existing protected landscapes, and fails to mention National Parks.

We believe that there is a critical need for a strengthened network of protected landscapes to support a healthy and inclusive society. We welcome the potential creation of more protected areas, but would like to see more ambition – including meaningful support for the existing National Parks, which will be needed in order to meet the challenge of climate change. All new designations must be accompanied by appropriate new funding, and a commitment to funding in future years at a level which will enable National Parks and AONBs to fully achieve their purposes (read our full position statement on new National Parks here).

We welcome this statement and will continue to engage politicians and other decision-makers with the importance of supporting existing National Parks to play a leading role in the green recovery while we, once again, await a full response to the Glover Review.