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NEW FOREST NATIONAL PARK - PUBLIC INQUIRY INTO DESIGNATION ORDER

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A public inquiry into the proposal to designate a New Forest National ...
A public inquiry into the proposal to designate a New Forest National

Park has been announced by the government.

The planning inquiry is a normal phase of decision making during the designation process. In response to a Parliamentary Question, secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs Margaret Beckett said:

'Under Schedule 1 to the National Parks and Access to the Countryside

Act 1949, an inquiry must be held into the Designation Order if a

local authority has objected and the objection has not been

withdrawn. Several local authorities have lodged objections, which

are being maintained. A letter is being sent to all those who have

made objections or representations, advising them that a local

inquiry is to be held and what the scope of the inquiry will be. The

inquiry is expected to start in October.'

The inquiry will hear representations on the need for a national park

to protect the natural beauty of the area, the opportunities to

provide for open-air recreation and whether the land within the

boundary meets the criteria for national parks. In addition,

representations about the management and administration measures for

a possible national park authority will be heard, including views on

the advice provided to the government by the Countryside Agency.

NOTES

1. In 1999 ministers asked the Countryside Agency to consider

designating the New Forest as a national park. Having undertaken

work to identify a boundary for the Park and to consider the

administrative arrangements required to meet the special

circumstances of the New Forest, the agency has submitted a

Designation Order to the secretary of state DEFRA for confirmation.

2. The Designation Order was put on public deposit from 22 February

to 25 March to enable people to make representations to the Order.

A total of 374 were received, including from eight local

authorities, seven of which have raised objections. Under the

National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949, an inquiry

must be called if a local authority maintains an objection to the

Order. The scope of the inquiry, expected to start in October, is

given in the attached letter announcing the inquiry.

3. The current national parks in England are Dartmoor, Exmoor, the

Lake District, the North York Moors, Northumberland, the Peak

District and the Yorkshire Dales. Each of them has a national park

authority, which looks after conservation issues and helps people

to understand and enjoy their special qualities, as well as seeking

to foster the social and economic well-being of local communities

in the parks. The Norfolk and Suffolk Broads has a similar status

to a national park but is set up under separate legislation.

4. National parks budgets come from the government, 75% direct in

the form of National Parks Grant and the remaining 25% through the

revenue support grant to local authorities. Membership of a

National Park Authority is drawn mainly from local interests -

constituent local authorities appoint one half plus one of members;

the secretary of state appoints the rest, of which half minus one

come forward through a process of local democracy to represent

parish interests. The remainder represent national interests. On a

typical national park authority of 26 members, this results in 14

local authority appointees, five secretary of state appointees to

represent parish interests and seven secretary of state appointees to

represent the national interest.

Our reference: NPS 4/10/4

21 May 2002

Dear

PROPOSED NEW FOREST NATIONAL PARK

1. I am writing on behalf of the Secretary of State to inform you

that a local inquiry will be held to hear objections and

representations made to the New Forest National Park (Designation)

Order 2002. The inquiry is likely to open in October this year.

2. The objections made to the Order include several from local

authorities. If these are not withdrawn, paragraph 2(2)(a) of the

First Schedule to the National Parks and Access to the Countryside

Act 1949 requires an inquiry be held.

3. As set out below, the inquiry will address issues about the land

within the proposed boundary of the National Park and the separate

but related issue of the establishment and operation of a New

Forest National Park Authority.

National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949

The land within the proposed boundary of the National Park

4. The questions to be addressed in relation to the land are:

(i) Does the area as a whole enclosed within the proposed boundary

meet the criteria and purposes of designation as a National Park

set out in the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act

1949.

- The criteria for National Parks are that they should be extensive

tracts of country which it appears to the Countryside Agency that

by reason of:

(a) their natural beauty;

(b) the opportunities they afford for open-air recreation, having

regard both to their character and to their position in relation to

centres of population; it is especially desirable that the

necessary measures shall be taken for the purposes set out beneath.

National Parks are designated for the purposes of:

(a) conserving and enhancing the natural beauty, wildlife and

cultural heritage of the designated areas;

(b) promoting opportunities for the understanding and enjoyment of

the special qualities of those areas by the public.

(ii) Should the boundary be altered to include or exclude any areas

specifically referred to by objectors to the Order, bearing in mind

the criteria and purposes of designation.

5. The above should be regarded as the Secretary of State's

statement of matters which she considers relevant to her

consideration of the Order at the inquiry.

Environment Act 1995

The establishment and operation of a New Forest National Park

Authority

6. The question here is:

(iii) Is a National Park Authority appropriate in the New Forest

and, if so, how might it best be established and operate?

- The designation of a National Park under the National Parks and

Access to the Countryside Act 1949 raises the separate but related

issue of appropriate management and administration measures. In the

case of all existing National Parks these are provided for by a

National Park Authority established under the Environment Act 1995.

We have decided that it would be helpful for the inquiry into the

Designation Order to be extended to consider representations into

management and administration measures, including the Countryside

Agency's advice on how a National Park Authority might operate to

recognise the special characteristics of the New Forest.

7. We have asked the Planning Inspectorate to organise and manage

the inquiry on our behalf. They will be the point of contact for

all questions about the inquiry process. The Planning Inspectorate

will write to you shortly with further details about the contact

points and next steps.

Yours sincerely

Hugh Llewelyn

Countryside (Recreation and Landscape) Division 1

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