Opposition to merging responsibility for Devon’s national parks

Any proposals to remove local responsibility for Dartmoor and Exmoor will be strongly opposed in Devon, county council leader John Hart has declared.

There’s been considerable speculation that the Government is planning to centralise the management of Britain’s national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty in a new National Landscape Service.

But Mr Hart has written to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, George Eustice, and Devon’s MPs urging them to keep the management local.

Mr Hart sent the letter on behalf of Team Devon, the organisation representing the county council as well as district, town and parish councils. The letter is set to be discussed at the county council’s Cabinet meeting on June 9.

Mr Hart says in the letter: ‘All Devon’s local authorities were alarmed to read media reports referring to the consideration being given to the possible role and structure of a new National Landscape Service.

‘We share grave concerns about the potential impact that this might have on the management of Devon’s unique series of nationally protected landscapes.

‘The Dartmoor and Exmoor National Park Authorities, together with our five areas of outstanding natural beauty (AONBs) are instrumental in conserving, enhancing and promoting Devon’s natural environment and the social and economic benefits that they provide.

‘The localised management of each of those areas is critical to their success and we would strongly oppose any centralised merger of their functions.

‘When the government responds to the 2019 Landscapes Review, I hope that you can urge it to make a positive contribution to the ability of National Parks and AONBs to continue their important work and retain their autonomy.’

But Mr Hart says that a National Landscape Service which brings together and strengthens existing national support for landscape conservation and the protection of the natural environment could be of great benefit. It could also provide a strong national voice for all protected landscapes.

He said: ‘Such increased national support, coupled with local autonomy in governance and operation, provides the most effective model to improve upon the fantastic work which is already led and managed in Devon.’

Photo Credit – Ray Harrington


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