National Parks Wales are set to be on new first minister’s agenda

  • Post last modified:February 26, 2024
  • Reading time:5 mins read

To celebrate the 75th anniversary of the founding of National Parks, Campaign for National Parks and the Alliance for Welsh Designated Landscapes are urging candidates Jeremy Miles and Vaughan Gething to safeguard the future of National Parks and Landscapes in Wales, if successfully elected as first minister.

First minister hopefuls called on to act on National Parks

On this, Campaign for National Parks are hosting an event  ‘Celebrating Welsh Designated Landscapes: 75 years of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act’ at the Senedd on Tuesday 5 March from 12:00-1:30pm.

To help with these efforts, Campaign for National Parks and the Alliance have published a ten-point action plan to securing the long-term health of the parks and are calling on the next first minister to implement them fully, for the benefit of people, society and the planet.

The programme includes every child to visit a National Park as part of the national curriculum, greater regulation of Airbnb and holiday lets, and tighter nutrient management regulations to crack down on water pollution.

National Parks Wales: a vital role

Commenting, Gareth Ludkin, senior policy officer for Campaign for National Parks, said:

The three National Parks in Wales cover 20% of the country’s land surface and are home to over 80,000 people, yet it’s unclear where either first minister candidate stands on the
importance of our National Parks and Landscapes and what action they will take to give them a brighter future.

Too often we hear of children and young people who have limited or no access to our most treasured Welsh landscapes.

Providing an outdoor learning experience for every child in Wales as part of the National Curriculum would help establish a deeper understanding of rural life in Wales as well as a lifelong love, respect and appreciation of the natural world, and all of the benefits they bring to our health and wellbeing.

He continued:

In the face of climate breakdown, a nature crisis, growing inequality and a hollowing out of rural communities, Designated Landscapes can play a vital role in tackling some of Wales’
biggest challenges, if properly embraced by the next first minister and their government.

With another National Park being considered in North East Wales there are exciting opportunities for the successful candidate to set out a truly dynamic and progressive agenda for
our National Parks that provides for Wales’s communities, environment and health.

This includes delivering on nature recovery commitments made by the Welsh Government, as outlined in the 2018 Valued and Resilient report and 2022 Biodiversity Deep Dive.

A ten-point action plan

A ten-point action plan from Campaign for National Parks and the Alliance for Welsh Designated Landscapes:

  1. Long-term commitment of government funding, and a strong framework to attract and regulate private sector investment. The groups are calling for restoration of funding, in real terms, to 2010 levels and a funding commitment for the next decade and beyond.
  2. A new National Park for North East Wales that is truly an exemplar for biodiversity and climate, and that delivers for local communities and visitors alike.
  3. A future designation programme to include new National Landscapes (in particular the Cambrian Mountains) and the extension of National Parks into marine environments.
  4. Backing farmers’ efforts to restore nature in Designated Landscapes through an enhanced Sustainable Farming Scheme. The groups are calling for greater incentives and early commencement of collaborative actions within Designated Landscapes, with the landscape bodies empowered to support farmers and nature directly.
  5. A right for every child in Wales to have an adventure in a Designated Landscape with outdoor learning experiences being a core part of the National Curriculum.
  6. Ensuring that the proposed visitor levy and second homes reforms directly benefit National Parks and Landscapes. It’s vital that the welcome focus on how to manage the negative impacts of holiday lets, Airbnbs, and second homes is implemented in a way that does not deter visitors on low incomes, and that monies raised through the visitor levy within Designated Landscapes are ringfenced to support Designated Landscapes.
  7. Bringing an end to water pollution in our Designated Landscapes. The groups are calling for tighter nutrient management regulations, as well as proper enforcement on water pollution within Designated Landscapes.
  8. Delivering the promised access reform programme of 2019 to achieve wider recreational access to the countryside, and simplified designation and recording of public access. This should include an increase in ranger services.
  9. Improving sustainable travel to tackle the climate crisis and ensure that Designated Landscapes are truly available for all. The groups are calling for innovative schemes to reduce car travel, with monies invested in public transport to enable visitors to enjoy and experience National Parks car-free.
  10. New duties and powers for all relevant bodies to control damaging activities and maintain economic and social resilience for local communities. Including new duties for all relevant bodies to deliver updated purposes and to contribute to the development and implementation of strong and effective Management Plans.

Featured image via Welsh Local Government Association

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