Landscape charity, Friends of the Lake District, has called for immediate action and more support for Cumbria’s designated landscapes in a Government consultation on the future of our National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs). 

In January, the Government published a series of proposals in response to an independent review of England’s National Parks and AONBs, led by Julian Glover. The Government consultation has been seeking views on the proposals which include ways to improve the management of protected landscapes, boost biodiversity, manage visitor pressure and address the inequalities of accessing the outdoors. 

The proposals recognise the importance of our protected landscapes for health and wellbeing. This has been particularly true over the last two years as people have come to increasingly value the outdoors. However, the pandemic has also served to highlight some of the inequalities in accessing nature. 

Laura Partington, Policy Officer at Friends of the Lake District said: 

“We applaud the Government’s proposals that our protected landscapes should be available to all and that nobody should feel excluded. While this needs balancing with managing visitor pressure, we are extremely supportive of ensuring our protected landscapes are inclusive and we would urge Government to emphasise this within its ‘levelling up’ agenda. 

“To truly ‘level up’, people need access to cheap, reliable public transport. Among Government proposals is a sustainable transport pilot in Cumbria to develop new sustainable ways to access the Lake District National Park. 

“This has the potential to transform public transport in the area and provides a huge opportunity to improve transport for Cumbrian communities and visitors alike, enabling those without a private car to access the wider landscape for recreation and providing access to employment opportunities for those living in local communities. It could also help to meet local climate change targets and ensure the impacts of tourism do not damage the landscape it relies upon.” 

Friends of the Lake District has called for this sustainable transport pilot to be actioned as soon as possible to deliver the ‘levelling up’ agenda and help Cumbria recover from the economic effects of the Covid pandemic. It is now urging the Government to commit financial support and provide guidance to deliver a truly outstanding sustainable transport network in the Lake District. 

Alongside first-rate public transport, the charity believes that the people who work in the Lake District should be able to afford to live there. 

The issue of affordable housing and second homes is particularly acute in protected landscapes and the charity is disappointed that Government proposals have not provided any real solutions to the issue. Landscape sensitivity and a desire to live in the National Park means that simply building more is even less appropriate than it is elsewhere and wants to see the Government develop a unique approach for our protected landscapes. 

In further support of the charity’s remit to ‘secure a landscape that is accessible and enjoyed by all’ it would like to see every child in Cumbria given the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of spending time in its National Parks and AONBs. In its original response to the Glover Review, it recommended introducing designated landscapes into the national curriculum and providing opportunities for all children to visit a designated landscape. 

Whilst the charity has welcomed a subsequent Government proposal to support capacity building in schools to help young people engage with nature, it would like to see the Government go further and take forward a proposal in the Glover Review to introduce ‘a night under the stars’ in a protected landscape for every child. 

Laura Partington said: 

“The response from Government and associated consultation is long overdue. It is therefore essential that the Government is ambitious. We need to see some immediate action to bring lasting change and remove the barriers that prevent people enjoying and benefitting from the special landscapes of Cumbria.” 

Read/download our full written response here>