The Chilterns may soon be granted national park status as part of a major government reshuffle.
A review of national parks in England, modeled on the Hobhouse Report of 1947 which first proposed the idea, aims to designate new areas to be protected with national park and area of outstanding natural beauty status (AONB ).
The Chiltern Hills, which are currently an AONB, have been privately proposed as a future national park, according to the Telegraph.
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The Chiltern Hills, which stretch across Hertfordshire, Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Bedfordshire, are a popular holiday destination.
The Cotswolds are also said to be part of the plans, and the move would increase the total size of UK parks by 30%.
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It would also be the biggest addition since the creation of the Peak District, Snowdonia, Lake District and Dartmoor National Parks in 1951.
If the sites were to become national parks, they would be subject to more stringent planning regulations.
Planning applications for properties inside national parks are assessed by national park authorities, not local councils, and authorities have a legal obligation to prioritize landscape protection over opportunities. of development.
There are currently ten national parks in England, and the area proposed for the national park in the Chiltern Hills includes part of the parliamentary constituency of Chesham and Amersham, which Boris Johnson lost to the Liberal Democrats in a by-election. in June.
It is understood that the Prime Minister supports proposals to place the area under additional legal protections, which includes preventing any major real estate development that does not have a strong case to be in the public interest.
The review of national parks by the government nature agency, Natural England, will establish a new map of areas proposed for conservation status.
This is part of an attempt to fulfill a Tory manifesto pledge to protect 30% of the English countryside.
There are 10 national parks in England, three in Wales and two in Scotland, these are:
- England – Broads, Dartmoor, Exmoor, Lake District, New Forest, Northumberland, North York Moors, Peak District, South Downs and Yorkshire Dales
- Wales – Brecon Beacons, Pembrokeshire Coast and Snowdonia
- Scotland – Cairngorms & Loch Lomond & The Trossachs
Each national park is administered by its own authority, but that authority does not own all of the park land.
The 15 national parks have thousands of kilometers of public rights-of-way over 1,300 km that are designated as suitable for those of us with accessibility issues, providing people with incredible opportunities to explore these incredible spaces.
UK National Parks are considered oases for wildlife and host over 330 conservation projects in 2019/20. We work together as National Parks UK – working in unison for the good of nature and people.
Funded by the central government, national parks have specific objectives enshrined in law.
In England and Wales they are:
- Conserve and showcase natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage.
- Promote opportunities for the understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of national parks by the public.
National park authorities are also required to seek to promote the economic and social well-being of local communities in the national park.
But plans for a “national park city” are also being drawn up, which may require authorities to respect natural conservation and biodiversity in approving planning applications in urban areas.
The original 12 national parks proposed by Arthur Hobhouse in 1947 have now been established, with the South Downs completing the vision for English parks in 2009.
The journal Natural England is expected to be published later this year and may also point to new areas that are not already protected.
HS2 is going through the Chilterns, but it is not yet clear how a change in status would affect the controversial project which has already attracted much criticism from local residents.
A source told the Telegraph: ‘Natural England has already started work to assess two new AONBs and the extension of the Chilterns and Cotswolds AONBs. We are also exploring new approaches to improve people’s connection with nature, which could include building the idea of “national park cities”. “
However, it has been reported that Natural England’s recommendations cannot be published until the government responds to the Glover Review, which is an independent report on England’s natural landscapes released in 2019.
Its author, Julian Glover, proposed that all national parks be integrated into a unified authority, rather than being managed locally by separate organizations.
Ministers plan to respond to Glover’s exam later this year.
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