Cwm Idwal

Party Promises to National Parks

Published: 18 June 2024

Following a week of election manifesto announcements, Campaign for National Parks welcomes commitments on nature and National Parks from the Westminster parties. Overall there’s some positive steps forward but in this climate and nature emergency the proposals do not stack up to what’s needed in restoring National Parks to full health. That’s why we’re urging greater action from whoever forms the next Government. In this 75th anniversary year, the next Prime Minister must recommit to the founding vision of National Parks and set out an ambitious plan of action that secures nature-rich National Parks for everyone.

This election campaign we’re calling for all political parties to get behind our Save National Parks manifesto. To help with this we’ve analysed the manifestos from every political party in England and Wales with a sitting MP in the previous Parliament. Here’s a round-up of what the parties have announced so far:


  • A welcome promise to Help National Parks and National Landscapes become wilder and greener, ending the destruction of nature, expanding and restoring habitatsis included in the accompanying ‘Countryside Protection Plan’, but is disappointingly not in the main manifesto document.   
  • The manifesto references the climate and nature crisis, and the fact that Britain is one of the most nature depleted countries in the world. It promises “action to meet our Environment Act targets” and to “expand nature-rich habitats such as wetlands, peat bogs and forests so families can explore and wildlife can thrive, including on public land.”A promise to “co-ordinate nature’s recovery with bodies responsible for public land and major landowners” – in-line with our Health Check report recommendations – was also in the accompanying Countryside Protection Plan.  
  • On water, the manifesto promises “special measures”, fines, new regulator powers and criminal charges for failing water companies. It falls short of new legal protections to safeguard National Park waterways, much-needed in Windermere and elsewhere.  
  • On access, the party has rowed back from Right to Roam and instead promises nine regional river walks “as part of our plans to improve responsible access to nature”.  
  • The manifesto also promises a “land-use framework and make environment land management schemes work for farmers and nature”. As highlighted in our Health Check, getting this working hard for National Parks is potentially the biggest game-changer.


  • The manifesto promises toDesignate our 11th National Park alongside investing to improve existing National Parks and protected landscapes”. This welcome commitment builds on those made in the 2019 manifesto and looks to remedy the significant strains placed on National Park budgets following 40% real term cuts over the last decade.  
  • On water, the manifesto promises reforms to the water company price review process, strengthening sanctions and using fines to create a “river recovery network”. Yet it also plans to abolish nutrient neutrality rules, which have driven investment and action to reduce pollution in National Parks including the Broads, the Lake District and the South Downs. 
  • On access, the manifesto specifically rules outs “a universal Right to Roam” but there is a commitment to continuing to work with landowners to open up more “access to nature” routes and encourage disadvantaged children and young people to access green spaces. 
  • There is also strong emphasis on delivering more infrastructure more quickly and tackling “outdated EU red tape”, including proposals for freeports, investment zones and fast tracking permissions for development on farms, all of which could undermine National Park protections if previous proposals (that were then dropped after we campaigned hard on the issue) are revived.

Liberal Democrats

  • The manifesto includes a commitment to creating a new designation of “National Nature Parks”.  In a press release issued prior to the launch it was indicated that this would include reforming existing Parks, additional funding of £50m/year (i.e. almost doubling the National Park budget) and creating three new National Parks in the Chilterns, North Downs, Northumberland coast or Dorset, among other suggestions. 
  • On nature recovery, there are welcome commitments include protecting at least 30% of land and sea areas by 2030 for nature’s recovery, including doubling the size of the Protected Areas and important wildlife habitats by 2050, enhancing temperate rainforest (a significant proportion of which is found in National Parks), and an extra £1bn per year for Environmental Land Management.  
  • On water, commitments include legally binding targets to prevent sewage dumping into bathing waters and “highly sensitive nature sites” by 2030. We would push for this definition to include National Parks, as called for in our Health Check.

Green Party

  • The manifesto does not specifically reference National Parks but there are some notable commitments on nature and access that would drive significant change. For example, nationalising the water companies, tripling the budget for nature friendly farming, and “set[ting] aside 30% of our land and seas by 2030 in which nature will receive the highest priority and protection.”  
  • The manifesto also plans new legislation: a new Rights of Nature Act, giving rights to nature itself and a new English Right to Roam Act.  

 Plaid Cymru

  • Similar to other parties there’s no specific mention of National Parks in the manifesto, but there is a much-needed recognition of the nature and climate emergencies, particularly the fact that 1 in every 6 species in Wales is threatened with extinction. 
  • On nature recovery, the manifesto promises stronger protection of SSSIs and habitats with endangered species under threat from planning projects. The manifesto insists that “the beauty of Wales’s natural landscape should be preserved” with the undergrounding of power cables and no new licences for oil and gas drilling, as well as no new open cast coal mines. 
  • On water, the manifesto calls for the immediate devolution of all control over water bodies in Wales, which it claims would allow the Senedd to set higher environmental targets on water quality. It also proposes a Business, Human Rights and Environment Bill to ensure private companies are required to prevent environmental harms. 
  • On access, the manifesto doesn’t mention extending right to roam, but does commit to improving rural transport networks and offering a young person’s bus pass. 
  • The manifesto commits to a Welsh Green New Deal to provide green and net-zero sector jobs and re-skilling, and greater restrictions on second homes where needed. However, it also sets out opposition to the Sustainable Farming Scheme in regard to restoring vital nature habitats.

Our Health Check report showed that only 6% of National Parks are currently effectively protected for nature. The next Government needs to set out radical reforms to make these vital national assets wilder and accessible to all. The next Prime Minister must seize the opportunity to renew and revive National Parks.

Dr Rose O’Neill, Campaign for Nation Parks’ Chief Executive

Together, we can get National Parks on the national agenda: 

Voters around the country care passionately about National Parks and want to see the political parties commit to an ambitious programme of action to revitalise these landscapes. 

Here are five ways you can stand-up for National Parks at this election: 

  1. Sign the Save our National Parks petition 
  2. March with us at the Restore Nature Now protest 
  3. Ask politicians on the doorstep – what will you do to save National Parks? 
  4. Get involved in election hustings 
  5. Write to local candidates