I put the Dorset and East Devon National Park idea on Devon County Council’s agenda – the Cabinet will invite the national review to visit the County

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Yesterday Devon’s Cabinet discussed my proposal, in response to the Government’s review of National Parks, that the County Council support a National Park for Dorset and East Devon.

The official briefing paper stated: ‘A National Park brings together in one organisation responsibilities for conserving and enhancing the environment and heritage; promoting enjoyment, recreation and wellbeing; and fostering the economic and social wellbeing of its communities.’ In my speech (which you can watch here) I talked about the threats to the existing Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty from development – for example at Woodbury as well as these advantages.

The Cabinet’s response (see minutes, 12c) was positive in so far as it welcomed the review and invited the review panel to visit Devon. I hope this will give those of us in favour the opportunity to present the case.

At the same time, the Cabinet ‘deferred any expression of support for the establishment of a Dorset and East Devon National Park unless or until the overriding benefit of this approach to Devon’s wider interests is clearly demonstrated.’ This caution was quite expected but it does not close the door, and that is encouraging.

Part of the problem over this issue is that East Devon’s ruling Conservatives refuse to engage with the proposal. This is driving Dorset campaigners to focus simply on their county (see logo), which is crazy since East Devon’s areas of outstanding natural beauty adjoin theirs, and we share the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site for which a National Park would be an obvious complement.

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