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PROTEST AT SOUTH DOWNS STATUS

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Environmental groups have greeted the government's decision not to make the South Downs a national park with a chor...
Environmental groups have greeted the government's decision not to make the South Downs a national park with a chorus of protest, reports The Independent (p5).

The government's landscape advisory body, the Countryside Commission, has decided the 50-mile range of chalk hills can be best protected by designating the Downs an area of outstanding natural beauty.

This is a weaker designation in terms of development control than national park status and Chris Todd, of Friends of the Earth, says: 'We have an awful lot of information showing there is an overwhelming public feeling in the south-east for national park status.'

'The Countyside Commission, which is an unelected and unaccountable quango, is simply ignoring it, even though it was recently asked to carry out a public consultation exercise on the Downs' future.'

The recommendation will be put to the nine countryside commissioners on Thursday and, in the norml course of events, the plan will be rubber-stamped and accepted by the government.
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