Here in East Devon there is a serious dilemma: officers and former majority party councillors (many of whom kept their seats at the most recent election) refused to back a Jurassic National Park, as they did not want planning and dealing with developers taken away from them. So, the new council has to make a decision: leave this to officers to push for the status quo and change nothing or back the report.
Councillor Jung, who holds the Environment portfolio, and who left East Devon Alliance to accept the post from the Independent Group, now has a lot of responsibility on his shoulders. He did sterling work protecting Woodbury from the encroachment of the Carter family – can he persuade his new colleagues to back him? Presuming he does back it …
“Landscape study calls for a new national park
The Westcountry should have a new national park, alongside Dartmoor and Exmoor, a review of Britain’s landscapes proposes.
Two existing Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in Dorset and East Devon would be combined into the new park, covering not only the famous Jurassic Coast, but inland landscape treasures such as the hill forts of Dorset and East Devon.
The campaign group behind the proposal believes it would be a shot in the arm for the area’s economy and for local people.
The proposal is part of the Landscapes Review led by Julian Glover. It calls for the biggest shakeup of the running of England’s National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty since they were founded 70 years ago.
The review says the governing of national parks is top-heavy, with too little diversity or turnover of board members.
It also makes recommendations to introduce more innovative, enterprising ways to generate funds, in addition to further government funding.
Among the suggestions being put to ministers is a new National Landscapes Service to act as a unified body for England’s 44 national landscapes, including 10 National Parks and 34 AONBs.
A 1,000-strong ranger service would be the “friendly face” of national parks and help to engage schools and communities.
Every school pupil should have the opportunity to spend a night “under the stars” in these special landscapes to help more children to connect with nature, Mr Glover suggests.
AONBs would be given a boost, with new protections, responsibilities, titles and funding to help them be greener, more beautiful and more welcoming to the public.
Defra, which commissioned the review, will now consider the recommendations. Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers said: “These landscapes are the jewels in the crown of our countryside and are a cornerstone of our rural economy.
“We are committed to ensuring they flourish as havens for nature and sites that everyone in the country goes to visit for inspiration, adventure or relaxation:’
Mr Glover, who led the review, said: “From the high fells of the Lake District to the wildness of Exmoor, England’s most beautiful places define our country.
“Today we are setting out a big, bold plan to bring them alive to tackle the crisis in our natural environment and make sure they are there for everyone to enjoy.
“If we take action, we can make our country healthier, happier, greener, more beautiful and part of all our lives.
“Seventy years ago this year we created our national parks for a nation that had just won the Second World War. Now it’s time to reignite that mission.”
Richard Brown, a member of the group campaigning for a new Dorset national park, said talks were already under way with Natural England, and from there a recommendation would go to Defra, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
He said that becoming a national park would create a new onus to deliver housing according to local needs, along with better facilities for businesses.
“We are losing young families and we need more affordable housing.
“National parks aren’t subject to central government housing targets, but have a duty to respond proactively to local housing needs.
“Some people think a national park would stop development, but we do need development – the right kind of development:’
With several hurdles still to negotiate, they have not yet thought of a name for the new national park. Mr Brown suggested that could come from the public.”
Source: KEITH ROSSITER firstname.lastname@example.org
Western Morning News 24 Sept 2019