Update 8th October 2019

The report was published last month, sooner than we had expected.  The report is ambitious and agrees with a number of our recommendations, the key one being that a National Landscapes Service should be established to bring together our 44 designated landscapes (National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty).  The Review considered the current system of landscape protection to be fragmented, marginalised and misunderstood- not really a system at all.  We certainly agree with the principle of this and think National Parks should have a stronger voice in Government but also stronger governance to make sure that there is consistency in how the statutory purposes are applied throughout the Parks. 

With regard to the statutory purposes of National Parks there is mention of reference being made within the purposes to improving nature and biodiversity, there is also mention of an updated Sandford Principle where greater weight must be given to the first purpose to conserve and enhance natural beauty.  We had also recommended that National Parks be included in the National Curriculum and one of the proposals is for every child to spend a night under the stars in a national landscape.  We welcome references to helping people from minorities and less well- off areas to access our landscapes.  There is also  a reference to increasing the amount of land accessible to the public and again, this is something we had recommended. 

We are pleased that the report recognises the Lake District is heavily congested at times with an over reliance upon cars. There is also a recognition that unlimited car use can spoil the special beauty. A new approach to co-ordinating public transport in the Lake District is a specific proposal within the report. However, there is not enough recognition that too many visitors can undermine the quality of the landscape. We believe that there needs to be more discussion about the measures that can be implemented to alleviate the impact on infrastructure of an ever increasing number of visitors to the Lake District.

On funding the current system is considered unnecessarily complex.  Other recommendations include reducing the administrative burden by reducing the numbers of people on National Park Boards.  This should raise some money, but not enough if the ambitions of the report are to be fulfilled.  The report considers that there should be an ambitious and philanthropic programme of funding including both a charitable and commercial approach.  However, there is no clear framework for this and we have concerns about the conflicts that may be created from commercial funding and that charitable fundraising for landscape protection purposes may just take from the existing pool of finance available for such work. 

A link to the summary of the findings can be seen below:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/designated-landscapes-national-parks-and-aonbs-2018-review/landscapes-review-summary-of-findings 

Update 31st July 2019

We are pleased with one of the key suggestions of the Designated Landscapes Review.  Julian Glover who leads the review has published a letter which sets out a guide to the review panel’s thoughts on what they have found.  The main ask from Friends of the Lake District was that some form of central governing and co-ordinating body is set up to provide strong governance and consistency around the purposes of National Parks.  The letter from Julian Glover to Michael Gove makes clear that we should not be happy with what we have at the moment and that the system of landscape protection is fragmented, sometimes marginalised and often misunderstood.  In the light of this the panel is going to explore the potential of a National Landscape Service- effectively supporting our key request.

The letter also emphasises that our designated landscapes should be at the forefront of nature recovery and take a lead in tackling climate change.  In terms of funding at the very least the panel want to see existing budgets secured in real terms and sustained for a further five year period.

The initial findings in the letter are generally challenging, that is heartening and we look forward to the full report.

Read Julian Glover's July 2019 letter setting out the interim findings of the Landscapes Review.

18th December 2018

A summary of our response is detailed below together with a link to our full response.

While we consider that our designated landscapes have been a great post war success story our landscapes must meet the challenges of today. We have made a significant number of recommendations to the review but our key points are that:

  • There should be a strong central co-ordination body to provide strategic direction to national parks and to ensure consistency, accountability and a voice to champion designated landscapes at government level

  • A greater emphasis should be placed upon conserving and enhancing natural and cultural heritage to make sure that enhancement of the special qualities of our landscapes takes place

  • The types of recreation promoted must be in line with the first purpose to conserve and enhance

  • The review should consider opportunities for introducing designated landscapes into the national curriculum and providing opportunities for all children to visit a designated landscape

Read our response in full here

25th October 2018

Friends of the Lake District welcomes the Government’s independent review of England’s National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) launched on 20th October.  The review is led by Julian Glover supported by an experienced advisory group.

This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to make your views known on the future of our National Parks and AONBs and how they are run.  We will be submitting a response to the review but we would urge individual members to feed in their own comments directly. As part of the response process, there is an option for you to submit an image illustrating what is special to you about a National Park or AONB. We believe that this provides an exciting opportunity for us all to demonstrate what these landscapes mean to us. 

With a deadline for submissions on 18 December, the review will report next year, 70 years after the landmark National Parks Act 1949 that established National Parks in England and it will consider all aspects of England’s National Parks and AONB's. 

Background information about the review together with the consultation can be found here: https://consult.defra.gov.uk/land-use/landscapes-review-call-for-evidence

We will provide an update and some initial thoughts once we have considered the review in more detail.