National Park was announced today by the rural affairs minister Alun
'The National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 requires
an inquiry be held into a Designation Order if a local authority has
objected and the objection is not withdrawn. Several local
authorities have made objections and have so far not withdrawn them.
Consequently, a public inquiry will be called.'
The inquiry, which is expected to start in late autumn, will hear
objections and representations on whether the South Downs meets the
criteria for a National Park in relation to the natural beauty of the
area and the opportunities afforded for open air recreation. In
addition, it will hear whether the boundary should be altered to
include or exclude any areas, and representations on the
establishment of a National Park Authority. Objections to Orders
revoking the East Hampshire Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and
the Sussex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty will also be
1. In 1999, ministers asked the Countryside Agency to consider
designating the South Downs as a national park. After identifying a
boundary for the Park and considering the administrative arrangements
required to meet the special circumstances of the South Downs, the
agency has submitted a Designation Order to the secretary of state
2. The Designation Order was put on public deposit from 27 January to
28 February 2003 to enable people to make representations to the
order. Around 5,000 were received; 14 local authorities 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.
3. The current national parks in England are Dartmoor, Exmoor, the
Lake District, the Nort h 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
national parks. The Norfolk and Suffolk Broads has a similar status
to a national park but is set up under separate legislation.
The New Forest is currently subject to a public inquiry to hear
representations on the need for a national park to protect the
natural beauty of the area, the opportunities for open air recreation
and whether the land within the boundary meets the criteria for
national park status. It started on 8 October 2002 and will finish on
10 April 2003. In addition, representations about the management and
administrative measures for a possible national park authority are
being heard, including views on the advice provided to the government
by the Countryside Agency.
4. National park budgets are provided by government, 75 per cent
directlythrough the National Parks Grant and the remaining 25 per
cent through the revenue support grant to local authorities.
Membership of a national park authority is drawn mainly from local
bodies - constituent local authorities appoint half plus one; the
Secretary of State appoints the remainder, of which half minus one
represent parish interests. The others represent national interests.
Typically, on a national park authority of 26 members, this results
in 14 local authority appointees, 5 secretary of state appointees to
represent parish interests and 7 secretary of state appointees to
represent national interests.