Government responds to CPRE Essex letter on Landscape Review
The final report of the much-anticipated Landscape Review, published in September 2019, concluded more than a year’s analysis of whether protections for England’s National Parks and AONBs were still fit for purpose.
The government had ordered the review in May 2018, asking “in particular, what might be done better, what changes will help and whether the definitions and systems in place are still valid”.
It was led by journalist and speechwriter Julian Glover – hence its widely-used alternative name of the Glover Review – and he was supported by an advisory group of Lord Cameron of Dillington, Jim Dixon, Sarah Mukherjee, Dame Fiona Reynolds and Jake Fiennes.
The report received a largely favourable response and it’s fair to say it did not pull any punches. Its summary of findings read:
“Today, we have a system which is fragmented, sometimes marginalised and often misunderstood. Indeed it is not really a system at all, but 10 National Parks, who do not always work together effectively, and an entirely separate network of 34 less powerful Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs).
“They have different purposes from National Parks, vastly less money, but sometimes greater pressures. Yet they cover areas that are more visited, sometimes more biodiverse and are just as beautiful.
“We believe this duplication wastes resources and diminishes ambition.
“That is why our central proposal is to bring National Parks and AONBs together as part of one family of national landscapes, served by a shared National Landscapes Service (NLS). This will give them a bigger voice, bigger ambition and a new way of working to meet new challenges.”
The Guardian newspaper reported that the review concluded “National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty have not done enough to protect nature or welcome diverse visitors, and extra government funding must help drive radical change”.
The Conservative Party manifesto for the 2019 general election said: “We welcome the Glover Review and will create new National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, as well as making our most loved landscapes greener, happier, healthier and open to all.”
David Knight, chairman of CPRE Essex, was keen to show his appreciation of the review and in January wrote to Theresa Villiers, then Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions, to confirm this group’s support.
His letter received a reply from John Gardiner, who as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Rural Affairs and Biosecurity, was the “Minister for this policy area”.
Lord Gardiner was “heartened to read [David’s] enthusiastic response to the Review”, which he said “aligns with the vision of our 25 Year Environment Plan”.
“The Landscape Review includes recommendations for significant change to the current system and we are taking the time to consider these carefully,” wrote Lord Gardiner.
You can read the letter in its entirety by clicking here