Overall, the Chilterns Conservation Board (CCB) welcomes today’s announcement. The measures demonstrate the Government’s recognition of the value of our protected landscapes in not only safeguarding nature, but also supporting the local economy and enhancing people’s health and wellbeing through being able to enjoy these beautiful places.
Speaking about the £15m funding uplift, Dr Elaine King, Chief Executive for the Chilterns Conservation Board, said: “Today’s announcement is welcome. A £15m cash injection absolutely takes us in the right direction, but it must represent a meaningful levelling up for National Landscapes in line with the recommendations outlined in the Landscapes Review.
“National Parks receive much more Government funding than National Landscapes. England’s 10 National Parks receive seven times the funding of National Landscapes, yet National Landscapes cover double the land area, and welcome double the number of visitors a year – many within a much closer proximity to urban areas.”
Colin Courtney, Chairman for the Chilterns Conservation Board commented, “This £15m uplift for Protected Landscapes is most welcome, but it’s not clear whether this announcement marks a real commitment to providing the security of long-term funding. We need to be able to plan ahead so we can fully deliver our statutory purposes to conserve and enhance our natural and historic environment, and enable more people to experience and benefit from this wonderful landscape.”
The CCB is also pleased at the Government’s announcement that it will be searching for a new National Park in England.
Dr King said, “A great deal of work has already taken place to consider the question of a new National Park, including the Landscapes Review recommending that the Chilterns, Dorset and Cotswolds be designated National Parks. We welcome the opportunity to contribute to the search, though are somewhat surprised that the Government feels more exploration is required.”
Dr King continued, “The Glover Review highlighted the particular pressures the Chilterns are under, as well as the value of the landscape to people, given its proximity to major urban areas and its extensive network of footpaths and other public rights of way. It described the Chilterns as an ‘obvious candidate’ for redesignation as a National Park but that, if it remains an AONB, then the Conservation Board should ‘be given increased resources… and further powers to address the specific challenges it faces.’ We will therefore be looking to the Government to reflect this recommendation in any future decisions.”