more money to pay for its upkeep and better arrangements for managing
it, says the Countryside Commission.
The commission has submitted its advice to government on the future
Natural Beauty and the eight National Parks. Its views are also
highlighted in the latest issue of its quarterly newspaper
In its advice, the commission is calling for new legislation, giving
- statutory duties to safeguard Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty
and management plans for them
- the power to hand over the running of these areas to conservation
boards, with strengthened powers and secure funding
'Despite the best efforts of local authorities and those working to
protect it, the management of our protected countryside, and in
particular Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, is under-resourced.
In the case of Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty the role of local
authorities and others in securing their good management needs to be
clarified,' says commission chairman Richard Simmonds. 'New steps
must be taken if we are to improve the protection and management of
these special areas.'
The commission undertook a full review of the future of protected
countryside in England, following requests from the government. It
has recommended that the following principles should underpin the
protection and management of protected areas:
- appropriate and effective management and funding arrangements are
essential if our finest countryside is to be secure and protected for
- flexibility is needed; each area should have management and funding
arrangements which are appropriate to its needs
- carrying out statutory functions requires secure long-term support
from public funds
- high priority should also be given to securing funding from
non-government sources, but such funding should be seen as
supplementary to public funds, not a substitute
- the policies and activities of all departments of central and local
government should reinforce the statutory purposes of protected
Richard Simmonds says 'In practical terms we are proposing new
legislation so that those responsible for managing protected
countryside have the administrative, legal and financial means to do
the job properly.
'We are proposing that 50% of the costs of managing Areas of
Outstanding Natural Beauty should be met through government funding.
We estimate that the total costs for this could amount to£18.5 to
£19.5m. We would like government to fund the core costs, which
amount to some£10m a year, depending on how many areas choose
to set up conservation boards. We also propose a new fund to meet the
costs of special projects in these areas, with a suggested government
funding of£2m a year.
'The government needs to put a stop to the arguments about first and
second division designated areas. Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty
and National Parks are equivalent; policies for their protection
against inappropriate development are in place. But not everyone
believes this. We would like the government to give a lead,
confirming its policy (in PPG7) and demonstrating through its own
planning decisions the very high degree of protection all our
protected countryside should enjoy,' Mr Simmonds adds.
The commission has also offered its views on the long-standing
problems of two particular outstanding areas of countryside, the
South Downs and the New Forest. It has recommended that the most
appropriate arrangement for the long term management of the South
Downs is as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, with a new
statutory conservation board, with extensive powers and funding as
outlined above. It confirmed that the South Downs do not meet the
criteria of a National Park. The New Forest does and should be given
status equivalent to a National Park. However in view of the special
local circumstances of managing the New Forest, the commission
recommends that a tailor made authority would be the best solution
for its management.