What’s next for National Parks in Wales? UPDATE 13th March

The Minister will make a Policy Statement in due course, which will provide more detail on her ambitions for Designated landscapes to deliver for all the people of Wales and to focus on delivery and effective collaboration.  Once again we welcome her intent to provide stability by drawing a line under the review process, which has now been in progress for over 4 years.

In the questions which followed the Minister’s statement we were impressed by the depth of understanding of the issues and the strong commitment shown by Assembly Members across all parties.  In the order in which they spoke – Paul Davies AM, Simon Thomas AM, Neil Hamilton AM, Mike Hedges AM, Nick Ramsay AM, Janet Finch-Saunders AM, and David Melding AM  – all welcomed the clear commitment to retaining the current purposes of National Parks with the Sandford Principle firmly in place.  Many made insightful points and showed how much they value the ability of designated landscapes to deliver benefits because of – rather than in spite of – their status as protected areas.  For example: Simon Thomas AM highlighted the importance of well-managed access opportunities and explained the need for stability and investment in our designated landscapes, Paul Davies AM gave a convincing account of the economic importance of tourism, Mike Hedges AM expressed the importance of local accountability, while Janet Finch-Saunders AM highlighted the role that hard-working third sector bodies like the Snowdonia Society play in partnerships which protect and enhance our National Parks.

A transcript of the Minister’s statement and questions is here.
You can watch the proceedings in the archive on http://www.senedd.tv


So what is next for National Parks in Wales?

When Environment Minister Hannah Blythyn AM makes her statement on 13th March, we hope for:

We hope for commitment and investment to match the ambitions for National Parks to deliver a vast range of society’s needs.  National Parks deliver food and fuel, clean air and water, adventure and experience, beauty and inspiration.  This doesn’t happen by accident; it takes well-managed and well-resourced National Parks.

We hope for recognition that the conservation ethic which underpins National Parks is what allows them to deliver in the long term.  The risk of weakening any of the protection mechanisms is that there are always some hands ready to take a slice without giving something back. In the end the state of our National Parks – our ‘Natural Health Service’  – is a statement of who we are as a nation.

Above all, we really hope to see signs that Welsh Government has listened to all the conservation organisations in Wales, and the thousands of individuals who responded to the consultation in the Autumn.  The consistent message has been ‘Please maintain and strengthen the conservation protections for our designated landscapes, for the sake of current and future generations’.

We’ve fought hard to challenge the worst elements of the ‘Future Landscapes’ report, and made sure it has received the scrutiny it needed.  Last year we led a coalition of organisations whose members ensured that, when the Assembly considered designated landscapes on 6th June, the debate was full of the language of conservation rather than exploitation.  Now we face the more difficult task of helping to find a way forward.  Please support our work and be part of the network of helping hands, making a difference, working together for our wonderful National Parks.




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