Our call to the PM: Now is the time to leave a lasting legacy for nature

To coincide with the COP15 summit on biodiversity, 47 organisations have signed a letter to the Prime Minister, calling on the government to accept amendments in the Levelling Up Bill for greater nature protection in National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty in England.

This comes after new figures show that some areas of National Parks in England are in a worse state for nature than the national average. National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty cover 25% of England and over half of the country’s most important nature sites. The letter to the Prime Minister therefore makes clear that without the legal reforms tabled, the country will fail to meet its nature goals.

Amendments have been tabled to the Levelling Up & Regeneration Bill by Gary Streeter MP which would deliver key recommendations from the Glover Review of Protected Landscapes in England. This would allow National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty to do more for nature and climate, helping the government reach their commitments on net zero, to halt and reverse the decline in the abundance of species and to protect 30% of our land and sea by 2030.

But the government has failed to back up their words with action.

Despite the legislative amendments being proposed by the Government earlier in the year, and the Glover Review being well over-due for implementation, we still have not had signs that the latest Ministers will take the opportunity and adopt the amendments to the Levelling Up Bill.

Therefore 47 environmental and recreation organisations, led by Campaign for National Parks and Wildlife and Countryside Link, have sent a letter to the Prime Minister, calling on him to take a step forward for nature at home while the UK makes the case for an ambitious global approach at COP15 this week. Other signatories to the letter include Greenpeace, RSPB, YHA, the Woodland Trust, the National Trust, Cycling UK, Muslim Hikers and Mosaic Outdoors. You can read the full letter here or below.

Meanwhile new figures show that only a quarter of SSSIs (Sites of Special Scientific Interest) in National Parks in England are in ‘favourable condition’, compared to a national average of 38%. Campaign for National Park’s analysis of latest data released by Natural England last week, shows worrying trends over the longer-term, with results getting worse, not better over time.

Commenting, Dr Rose O’Neill, Chief Executive, Campaign for National Parks, said:

“National Parks are the lungs of this country, an important home for wildlife and an inspirational place for us all to enjoy. But the fact that the majority of nature sites are failing shows that they need a step change in powers and resources to drive nature recovery. If the Government is serious about nature, now is the time to act on its own proposals set out earlier this year.”

“Later this month sees the 73rd anniversary of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act, which created the first of our National Parks. By failing to take action at this crucial moment, the government risks betraying the legacy and spirit of these precious landscapes”.

How you can support this campaign

We will be working with sector over the coming weeks and months to ensure we enhance nature protection in our National Parks and AONBs. 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: https://cnp.org.uk/sector/get-involved

Read the full letter to the Prime Minister below:

Dear Prime Minister, 

Now is the time to leave a lasting legacy for nature 

As nations around the world gather at COP15 to agree a future for life on Earth, you have a
great opportunity to leave a lasting legacy for nature at home. 

The Government has made bold commitments to net zero, to halt and reverse the decline in
the abundance of species and to protect 30% of our land and sea by 2030. National Parks and
Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) are home to a disproportionately high amount
of England’s remaining semi-natural and carbon-rich habitats. It is clear that if the Government
is to deliver any of its environmental promises by 2030 then these protected landscapes will
need to be reformed. 

This was recognised in the Government’s January 2022 response to the Glover Review of
Protected Landscapes in England. The response also made clear that the current legislation for
protected landscapes is too weak and does not reflect that many of our existing landscapes
are now badly degraded. Through the response, the Government accepted the case for legal
reform to address these problems and acknowledged that supporting protected landscapes
to do better for nature would complement their other roles. 

The Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill is a perfect opportunity to make those reforms. Your
colleague Sir Gary Streeter MP has laid amendments necessary to make our protected
landscapes thrive for people and wildlife.

These amendments are uncontroversial and benefit from cross-party support.

They provide you with an immediate opportunity to send a strong signal of the Government’s
intention to match its commitment to 30 by 30 with real action for change. Should the new
clauses be accepted by the Government, further new clauses would be required to deliver the
same reforms for the Broads Authority, which has parity status to National Park authorities,
and to carry forward equivalent changes for AONBs, which were also covered by the Glover

As Prime Minister, and with two National Parks in your constituency, you will understand the
significance of these landscapes to our national identity as well as to the natural world. We
hope the Government will take the opportunity afforded by the Levelling Up Bill to make good
on its commitment to strengthen our protected landscapes and help secure the future of

Yours sincerely, 

Dr Rose O’Neill, Chief Executive, Campaign for National Parks
Dr Richard Benwell, Chief Executive,Wildlife & Countryside Link
Beccy Speight, Chief Executive, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB)
Hilary McGrady, Director General, National Trust
Craig Bennett, Chief Executive, The Wildlife Trusts
Darren Moorcroft, Chief Executive,The Woodland Trust
Tom Fyans, Interim Chief Executive, CPRE The Countryside Charity
Hugh Knowles and Miriam Turner, Co-Executive Directors, Friends of the Earth (England, Wales
and Northern Ireland)
Pat Venditti, Interim Executive Director, Greenpeace UK
Tom Usher, Chief Executive, Dartmoor Preservation Association
Dr Bruce McLeod, Chair, Friends of the Dales
John Ward, Chair, Friends of the New Forest
Tomo Thompson, Chief Executive, Friends of the Peak District (CPRE Peak District & South
Stuart Clayton, Acting Chief Executive, Friends of the Lake District
David Green, Friends of the South Downs Society
Mohammed Dhalech, Mosaic Outdoors
Haroon Mota, Founder, Muslim Hikers and Active Inclusion Network
Adrian Leaman, Chair, North York Moors Association
Yvonne Witter, Chair, Peak District Mosaic
Charles Watson, Chairman, River Action UK
Dr Tony Whitbread, Chair, South Downs Network
Lisa Wainwright, Chief Executive, Sport and Recreation Alliance
Paul Rice, Chair, The Broads Society
Neil Redfern, Executive Director, Council for British Archaeology
Tompion Platt, Director of Operations & Advocacy, The Ramblers
Darren York, Chief Executive, The Conservation Volunteers
Rebecca Wrigley, Chief Executive, Rewilding Britain
James Blake, Chief Executive, YHA
Sarah Mitchell, Chief Executive, Cycling UK
Ashley Metcalf, Chief Executive, British Canoeing
Paul Davies, Chief Executive, British Mountaineering Council
Kate Ashbrook, General Secretary, Open Spaces Society
Jill Nelson, Chief Executive, Peoples Trust for Endangered Species
Sally Hayns, Chief Executive, Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management
Dr Hazel Norman, Chief Executive, British Ecological Society
Dr Tony Gent, Chief Executive, Amphibian and Reptile Conservation
Andy Bool, Chief Executive, The Mammal Society
Julie Williams, Chief Executive, Butterfly Conservation
Gill Perkins, Chief Executive, Bumblebee Conservation Trust
Ian Dunn, Chief Executive, Plantlife
Jamie Christon, Chief Executive, Chester Zoo
Andy Knott MBE, Chief Executive, League Against Cruel Sports
David Bunt, CEO, Institute of Fisheries Management
Chris Butler-Stroud, Chief Executive,Whale & Dolphin Conservation
Rosalind Forbes-Adam, Founder, Woodmeadow Trust
Dr Mark Avery, Co-Director, Wild Justice
Dr Stephen Head, Founder Patron, Wildlife Gardening Forum