Pledge to protect National Parks renewed by original campaigners 70 years later

1 April 2019

Campaign for National Parks has led a coalition of charities to pledge to protect the National Parks at a special 70th anniversary event in the Peak District.

70 years after an Act of Parliament was passed creating National Parks in the UK, five of the original campaigning organisations have come together once again to pledge to protect and preserve the Parks for future generations and make access for everyone easier.

Campaign for National Parks, Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), the Open Spaces Society, the Ramblers and the YHA (England and Wales) made the pledge as part of a special day of 70th anniversary celebrations at Castleton in the Peak District.

Led by the Campaign for National Parks the only national charity dedicated to campaigning to protect and promote all of the National Parks of England and Wales, the organisations have pledged to work together once again to make the 13 National Parks of England and Wales more accessible, as well as to campaign for strengthened protections.

Representatives from the five charities sign a pledge to protect National Parks

Representatives from the five charities sign the pledge to protect and improve National Parks

Despite their status, National Parks face considerable threats from fracking, mining, quarrying, road building, military training and housing developments. Additionally, there is the further challenge to make these beautiful areas of countryside accessible for everyone; themes that were touched on by speakers at this special event including CPRE’s Crispin Truman and YHA’s James Blake.

The creation of National Parks in 1949 is recognised as one of the seminal achievements of the environmental movement from the past 100 years. Today they attract around 100 million domestic and international visitors each year, contributing millions to the economy.

The pledge was signed at YHA Castleton Losehill Hall, a youth hostel based in the Peak District National Park on Friday 22 March 2019. The Peak District was one of the first National Parks to be created in 1951, two years after the Act was passed.

Janette Ward, Chair of Campaign for National Parks said: “I'm incredibly proud to be a signatory to this pledge to campaign for a bright future for National Parks. It's absolutely brilliant that the pledge has bought together such a diversity of people who all share the same passion for the countryside. It's a real reminder of the power we wield when we all come to together - that was the case 70 years ago and it is just as true now."

Recent research by Campaign for National Parks and CPRE has revealed that too many people face obstacles in getting to the Parks through lack of adequate public transport, cultural barriers or a lack of information. Ninety-three per cent of National Park visitors use a private car, creating further problems for these popular areas of countryside.

The pledge was buried in a time capsule

The pledge was buried in a time capsule as part of the celebrations.

Lack of access to the National Parks means some of the most disadvantaged members of society are missing out on the associated health and wellbeing benefits. Research has shown that spending time outdoors can reduce the risk of developing depression by 30%1 as well as benefiting self-esteem, mental and physical health.

James Blake, YHA (England and Wales) Chief Executive, commented: “Without the achievement of the Act to create National Parks, millions of school children would have been denied the transformative power of adventure in these fantastic spaces. There is, however, work to be done in making the Parks more accessible to the people who need them most - young people and their families. This is why YHA remains as committed now as it was in 1949 to preserving the National Parks.”

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