Government must secure future of ‘severely’ underfunded national parks, says charity

Inflation and rising costs will push the UK’s national parks “to the brink”, warns a charity, which is calling for additional funding ahead of the autumn budget due later this week.

Campaign for National Parks has written an open letter to the Chancellor warning of “severe consequences” if national parks are not given more resources, claiming that funding has fallen in real terms by 40% in the past decade.

The letter states “this balancing act cannot continue much longer” and argues that in the face of rising costs and inflation, England’s ten national park authorities will be “pushed to the brink”.

The letter refers to data compiled by National Parks England, highlighted by the Guardian earlier this month, which suggests that authorities will have to make cuts of £16m to national park services over the next three years.

The Guardian also reported that Dartmoor, Northumberland, Exmoor and Yorkshire Dales national park authorities  are set to experience budget shortfalls and are currently considering where to make cuts.

The argument made by the campaigners is that not only are protected landscapes important to the economy, health and wellbeing, but they are also intrinsic to the government’s biodiversity and net zero commitments.

The government has committed to safeguard 30% of land and sea in England and Wales for nature by 2030, and must reach net zero emissions by 2050. According to the charity, setting aside more resources for national parks is vital for achieving this goal.

The open letter also touched on former prime minister Liz Truss’s plans to introduce a series of “investment zones” where planning restrictions would be relaxed  in order to promote economic growth.

Although reports have suggested that Jeremy Hunt is set to scrap the plans in the upcoming budget, the group have sent a “clear message” that any measures to relax planning laws must not apply in national park areas.