Ten Impacts of the Government cuts on National Parks

1.  Jobs

Job losses National Park Authorities in England and Wales amount to 252 redundancies since the austerity baseline year (2008/9). Some National Park authorities have had to cut their numbers by a quarter.

2. Footpaths

Restoration work to damage caused to footpaths by last year’s flooding and storms on Dartmoor and Exmoor has not been completed and management of the Rights of Way Network budget in the Yorkshire Dales has fallen by 40 per cent this year. Rights of Way are key to the local economy, as evidenced by the massive drop in tourism and consequent economic impact footpath closures during the 2001 Foot and Mouth outbreak.

3. Farming

Grant support for farmers for hedgerow maintenance and dry stone wall work is being cut on Exmoor and North York Moors, which will affect key landscape characteristics.  This comes on top of declining payments under the new CAP budget.  In particular the funding of stewardship schemes is being squeezed; it is estimated that on Dartmoor coverage of these schemes will drop from two-thirds of farms to one third within the next five years, with an inevitable impact on struggling family farms, and potential adverse consequences for the farmed environment, including open access and common land.

4. Public Transport

Public transport has been cut in a number of authorities, affecting opportunities for people to visit Parks from urban areas and making it harder for local people without cars to get around. For example, the North York Moorsbus network has been dismantled, with the replacement operation, targeted at the most disadvantaged groups, operating only 20 per cent of the services available previously.

5. Engagement and Education

A number of National Park Authorities have cut or are out-sourcing their engagement and education work. In October, the Lake District ended its schools education service, which means that they are no longer going into schools or involved in any education or engagement of school children or other young people. Instead, they are attempting to educate through marketing. Pembrokeshire Coast, Yorkshire Dales and Exmoor have outsourced their education work to other organisations.

6. Biodiversity and Conservation

The Peak District has had to stop its farmland bird conservation support – this could have a knock on effect for lapwings and curlews. The South Downs say that future cuts would impact on their success wildlife programme, threatening iconic species such as the Duke of Burgundy butterfly on their chalk grasslands. The North York Moors have cut their budget on biodiversity and conservation work by more than ten per cent for the current financial year, putting ancient woodland work under threat.

7. Training and Apprenticeships

The Yorkshire Dales said it had ended its support for apprenticeships and training. In In 2014-15 it spent £25k on two apprentices and their training plus it made a grant of £40k to the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust apprenticeship scheme. But  in 2015-16 this work won’t attract a budget.

8. Community/Business support – Sustainable Development Fund

The Broads Authority have decided to end the provision of the Sustainable Development Fund grant even thoughit enabled more than 240 valuable projects to be undertaken over the past 12 years. Since 2002, grants totalling £1.92m have been given attracting £5.85m in match funding. In 2013/4, the final year of the Broads scheme, £135K was distributed and their conclusions said that education figures highly in the projects and that a number of schemes had involved helping people from disadvantaged or vulnerable backgrounds. One of the reasons given was that the return on investment – the multiplier – was falling year on year due to the economic financial situation.

9. Car-parking charges

Dartmoor is now having to raise money from car-parking charges – Haytor and Postbridge – possibly on a voluntary basis with funds going into conservation projects, following on from other National Park Authorities.

10. Visitor Centres

Four National Park centres in the Yorkshire Dales closed for half the year and only open at weekends outside April to October with staff numbers reduced for the rest of the year. Previously, these were open throughout the year. Dartmoor considered closing its Princetown visitor centre but decided against it as a last resort because of fears of knock on to the local economy in the area – ie tourism, catering. Many other Parks reviewing their tourist information centres – Snowdonia for example has been looking at Betws y Coed, Beddgelert, Dolgellau and Aberdyfi information centres.