Headlines: March 30th, 2009

Campaigners want all Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty to run their own affairs by setting up full Management Boards. The proposal comes from the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England which today issues a call for the future of beautiful landscapes to be at the heart of Government thinking.

It comes as the CPRE marks the sixtieth anniversary of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act. It says the lessons of the past year of recession and economic uncertainty reinforce the view that landscape protection should be given greater priority. It wants a renewal of commitment to the principle of protecting and celebrating our surroundings with a Charter for the future of the finest landscapes.

This would include the opportunity for all Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty to set up full Management Boards to run their affairs as permitted by the 2000 Countryside and Rights of Way Act. The CPRE also wants an extension of the role of the larger AONBs, such as the North Pennines and the Cotswolds, to include support for public enjoyment and understanding and with funding to match. The Charter also envisages a leading role for National Parks and AONBs in developing action against climate change, a South Downs National Park with the best possible boundary and the resources it needs and a continuing commitment from Government to prevent damaging development in National Parks and AONBs.

Tom Oliver, Head of Rural Policy at CPRE said the significance politicians first gave to the areas that became National Parks and AONBs came at a time of national emergency and huge challenges to society. “That far-sighted action has provided us with one of our greatest natural assets. We need to secure and extend it in the years ahead,” he said.