Reports suggest the Chilterns may soon be granted national park status, making it one of the most protected areas in the UK.
There are currently only 10 national parks in England, but according to The Telegraph the government is planning the biggest overhaul of the park system in 70 years.
The Cotswolds are also set to receive national park status, and the two areas would become the first new national parks since the South Downs in 2009.
Read more: Luton could become an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
A government source reportedly said: “Natural England has already started evaluating two new AONBs and the extension of the Chilterns and Cotswolds AONBs.”
The Chilterns are currently an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and Natural England is currently considering expanding its boundaries to provide direct access to high quality natural environments from many urban areas such as Luton.
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It is not yet clear whether national park status would extend to the proposed boundary extensions. If the Chilterns obtains the status, it would be subject to more stringent planning regulations.
In most areas planning requests are assessed by local councils, but in national parks they are assessed by park authorities. These park officials are legally obligated to prioritize landscape protection when considering developments.
The new review of the new national parks is being led by the government agency for nature, Natural England, and forms the park’s conservative pledge to protect 30% of the English countryside.
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Allison Potts, Area Manager for Natural England, previously said: “The Chilterns represent some of the most beautiful and accessible landscapes in the South East of England.
She added: “Designated to conserve and enhance natural beauty, the area is loved by millions of people across the region.”
The Chilterns include chalk streams rare in the world, chalk meadows rich in wildflowers, and prehistoric settlements including Bronze and Iron Age hills.
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