Dorset and East Devon National Park

Dorset and E Devon National Park Team welcomes Glover Landscapes Review’s recommendation that we are assessed for National Park designation.

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The Dorset & East Devon National Park Team statement: ‘… welcomes the Glover Review’s recognition that the area “contains some of the greatest concentrations of biodiversity in Britain and opportunities for enjoyment. It includes the Jurassic Coast World Heritage site”. The spectacular World Heritage Coast would double the extent of coastline which is currently under-represented in English National Parks. The area has a “gold standard” heritage and offers an unrivalled range of recreational opportunities.

‘We welcome the Review’s conclusion that “the Cotswolds and the Dorset proposals are strong candidates alongside the Chilterns to be considered for National Park status. We suggest Natural England and ministers consider the case for each.”

‘We consider Dorset & East Devon is the outstanding candidate to be England’s next National Park. This is shown by the wide-ranging evidence provided to Natural England since 2013 and then to the Glover Review by the National Park Team and the proposal’s many partners and supporters. The Team looks forward to Natural England’s further assessment and consideration of the case for National Park designation. We encourage Natural England to begin this work as soon as possible.

‘We welcome the Review’s emphasis on the vital contributions which National Parks can make to thriving and sustainable communities and rural economies, and to health and wellbeing for residents and visitors. And we support the Review’s call for Designated Landscapes to play a vital role in Nature Recovery Networks and in the response to climate change. We support their call for national funding for this vital work to be sustained and increased.

‘The proposed Dorset & East Devon National Park should be central to a new and exciting vision for the area’s environment, biodiversity and heritage – which are our greatest economic assets – and for communities, businesses and all who live and work in and visit the area.

‘In the 70th anniversary year of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act, we look forward to continuing to work with councils and other stakeholders, and with Natural England and DEFRA, to bring to fruition this long-overdue National Park.’

Read the full review…

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.

I’m proposing that Devon County Council supports the creation of a Dorset and East Devon National Park

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I’m putting forward a motion to the next meeting in July for the Council to support a new park, which would include the East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and prepare a case for submission to the review of national parks recently announced by the Government.