With 2024 marking the 75th anniversary of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949, along with the promise of Westminster election, Campaign for National Parks (CNP), backed by all the National Park Societies of England (of which Friends of the Dales is one), have written to all party leaders in England to set out a programme of ‘asks’ to safeguard our National Parks for the future. It has also published a Save Our National Parks petition – link below for signing.
The 1949 Act was the result of decades of campaigning from groups and individuals who understood the fundamental importance of access to the countryside away from our polluted cities, along with vital protections for nature. Of the early national parks designated, our own Yorkshire Dales National Park (YDNP) was the second, in the early years of the act in November 1954.
Yet despite 75 years of protection, our 13 national parks covering ten per cent of the land area in England and 20 per cent in Wales are facing unprecedented challenges from biodiversity loss and climate breakdown. For example, only 30 per cent of land designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest in the Dales is rated as in good condition.
The letter − which you can download below – asks that eight policies be put at the heart of election manifestos and plans for Government, and these are:
- A new deal for National Parks
- Every child to have an adventure in a Protected Landscape
- Bring an end to water pollution in our National Parks
- Back farmers’ efforts to restore nature in National Parks
- Ensure that rural communities have the homes they deserve
- Manage visitor numbers for the long-term health of National Parks
- Improve sustainable travel to tackle climate crisis and ensure the National Parks are truly available for all
- Reaffirm the planning protections that keep our National Parks safe.
We urge you to read the full version of this letter and also share it with your MP and please also sign the petition to send our leaders a powerful message ahead of the next UK election that National Parks matter.