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News from the Campaign for National Parks

February 9, 2013


News from Campaign for National Parks

 Help keep masts out of National Parks

Masts in National Parks

Thank you to everyone who has signed our petition calling on the Government to remove clause 8 from the Growth and Infrastructure Bill. Clause 8 would mean that broadband infrastructure including overhead cables and unsightly poles and masts, could be installed in National Parks without planning permission. We strongly support increasing superfast broadband in rural areas but these new powers risk spoiling the views in National Parks and undermining the founding legislation.

We have had support from peers across all three major parties when Clause 8 was debated in the House of Lords on 30 January but we are not there yet. Please read more, sign the petition and ask other people to sign too. The more signatures we have the better chance there is of stopping this.

Lake District and Yorkshire Dales National Park extension timetable

In the final leg of the long-running campaign to get the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales National Parks extended, Richard Benyon, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Natural Environment, Water and Rural Affairs has released details of the public inquiry to hear arguments for and against the proposed extension.

3,000 people, groups or organisations expressed their support or objections when the proposals were first made.  Objections include those submitted by five local authorities.  A pre-inquiry meeting is due in early March, with the full inquiry in June.  An inspector from the Planning Inspectorate will conduct the inquiry and report, by August, to the Secretary of State for a final decision.

We are now working hard with our local partners, Friends of the Lake District and the Friends of the Yorkshire Dales, to convince those who live and work in the proposed area for extension about the positive environmental, heritage and economic benefits that being a designated National Park can bring.

Thank you to everyone who donated to our Lakes and Dales appeal.  We’ve had a fantastic response so far which will help us to continue this vital work, and bring a successful close to the campaign.  You can still donate to the appeal to make sure that some of the most beautiful landscapes in the country are protected for generations to come.

North York Moors National Park still threatened by potash mine development

Since York Potash Ltd (YPL) announced that they intended to locate a new potash mine within the North York Moors National Park we have responded to pre-application consultations for both the proposed mine and the associated pipeline needed to transport the potash to the coast. We are very concerned that YPL has not provided strong enough evidence that there really is no other suitable location outside the National Park.

Recently YPL received the approval it needs from the Marine Management Organisation to extract potash from the seabed off the North Yorkshire coast and has submitted the formal planning application for the minehead to the National Park Authority.  The application for the pipeline will need to go through a separate approval process and is expected later in the spring.

We have a massive task on our hands with so many complex planning proposals to respond to. Thank you to everyone who’s already donated to our potash mine campaign appeal – you can still give to our Fighting Fund to help us engage effectively with these next stages.

Update on policy developments in Wales

Natural Resources Wales

Only a few weeks now until the new single environmental body for Wales, Natural Resources Wales / Cyfoeth Naturiol Cymru, starts operating on 1 April. Board members include Morgan Parry, former chair of Countryside Council for Wales and Dr Madeleine Havard, outgoing chair of Wales Environment Link and there is an interview with the new chief executive, Emyr Roberts, in the Western Mail.

Your views wanted on Sustainable Development Bill

The consultation is open on a White Paper for a Sustainable Development Bill, which would require public organisations in Wales to embed sustainable development in their decision-making and will create a new independent Sustainable Development Body. We’re responding to this consultation and are broadly supportive of these proposals but have some concerns about how they would work in practice. Please get in touch by 11 February to contribute your views to our response.

Planning Reforms

The Welsh Government has commissioned substantial research in preparation for a Planning Bill expected later this year. This included research on the delivery of planning services in statutory designated landscapes. The research provides strong support for having separate planning authorities for National Parks.

News on our Mosaic projects

Our Mosaic Cymru project was one year old in January, and well on the way to inspiring a new group of black, Asian and ethnic minority visitors to the National Parks of Wales.  We have exceeded our target to recruit 20 new Community Champions, and have almost 30 new leaders now making plans to take people from their communities into National Parks this spring and summer.

We are also recruiting for our new Mosaic Youth programme, which will encourage 16 to 25 year-olds to discover all the wonderful things that our National Parks have to offer. The project aims to build long-term youth skills, citizenship, health and confidence.

Read more about our Mosaic projects.

Good news for National Parks

 Pylon free National Parks?
In partnership with other organisations we have been lobbying hard for National Grid to be allowed to raise an allowance from the £100m proposed by Ofgem to put overhead electricity transmission lines underground and remove pylons from our protected landscapes. So we were extremely pleased with the announcement in December that an initial £500m will be available from April 2013 to cover the next eight years.

No nuclear waste under the Lake District National  Park

Last week, Cumbria County Council took a decision that means that there will be no new nuclear waste disposal facility in West Cumbria or the Lake District National Park.

The Friends of the Lake District ran a great campaign galvanising local campaigners to persuade the County Council that the geology, and the protected status of the Lake District National Park and the Solway Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (covering 75% of the area proposed), were not appropriate sites for a nuclear waste facility.

We supported their campaign by writing to Baroness Verma, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Department of Energy and Climate Change, stressing that legislation protecting National Parks should exclude the area from this, and any future proposed sites for a nuclear waste disposal. We hope this recent decision prompts a wider rethink of appropriate solutions for the UK’s nuclear waste problem. Read the Department for Energy and Climate Change statement .

Reduced speed limits in National Parks

The Department for Transport has made it easier for local authorities to introduce lower speed limits on rural roads “with a predominantly local, access or recreational function” and specifically mentions National Parks as an example of the type of area where this might happen.

Better cycling in National Parks

The Department for Transport is making up to £12m available to local authorities working in partnership with National Parks to improve conditions for cyclists. Cycling is a fantastic way to explore National Parks so this is great news.

Issues we are concerned about

Planning changes: making it easier to convert redundant farm buildings

The government has said that redundant agricultural buildings can be converted into shops, restaurants, small hotels and offices without planning permission. We argued strongly against this proposal on the basis that many former agriculture buildings are in locations where alternative uses may not be appropriate and could increase traffic and spoil the tranquillity. We are concerned that removing planning permission reduces National Park Authorities’ ability to manage and monitor changes.
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