Publication of the Landscapes Review, 21 September 2019
I am writing to let you know that tomorrow, we will be publishing our independent review into England’s National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs).
Since the Landscapes Review launched in May 2018, the panel and I have visited all of our National Parks and AONBs as well as many other non-designated landscapes, and talked to people who live, work in, visit and care for them. We held a public call for evidence that received around 2,500 responses and also carried out video ethnography to hear the perspectives of those we might not have reached. The views and evidence we have gathered have greatly shaped our findings and recommendations.
We have found much to be proud of in our National Parks, AONBs and elsewhere, and much that can be done better still.
We think our national landscapes can work together better with bigger ambitions to be happier, healthier, greener, more beautiful and open to everyone. This is what our recommendations aim to achieve and we hope those involved in our national landscapes will work together to put them into action.
It is 70 years this year since Parliament came together to protect our landscapes. Our country has changed and so must the way we support people and nature. The next 70 years of our national landscapes will be incredibly exciting, and we hope our proposals enhance them.
Analysis of the review from GOVT member Peter Quest
What follows is Peter’s summary of the Landscapes Review (Glover Review) on National Parks and AONBs as far as it affects the work of GOVT.
This summary is useful overall, easy to read and quite dense.
The full review is lengthy but is very useful on the background compared with the summary.
To pick out some key points for us:
The main report sets a background of loss, especially of ‘nature’, despite designation, and an incoherent system of designation and management.
It proposes a new title for both National Parks and AONBs of National Landscapes (NL) plus the encouragement of a slightly vague ‘wider range of non-designated system of landscape protection’ which should be part of a ‘family’.
A shared NL service to replace the existing individual services.
Strong emphasis on connecting ‘all people with our NLs’ (including, heaven help the organisers, a night under the stars in a NL for every child).
AONBs to be given statutory consultee status in the planning system.
Support, including affordable housing, for those living in NLs.
More NLs; but the Great Ouse Valley is not one of those mentioned in the text though it is on the list at the end. Oddly, the Review team have not visited our area or anywhere near, and I guess there is still an undervaluation of lowland areas (John Dower, who wrote the Dower Report in 1945, was a mountain man and it still shows!).
It proposes a better designation process, against a background of very slow progress over very many years.
It recommends the Chilterns as a suitable NL, specifically mentioning its relevance to the Oxford–Cambridge Arc.
Given the continuing pressure of Brexit (more than 16,000 civil servants work on it, including those who might be involved in designations) I can’t see anything substantive happening with the Review for a bit. Then the Government has to accept the recommendations – or not. So the position is that our AONB application is still on the table with others but not a priority. My guess is that all the applications will be quickly assessed before a decision to pursue any one of them, and we need to urge that that is done; I still think we have a strong case.
I do not know whether there is potential for GOVT to aim to be part of a ‘wider range of non-designated system of landscape protection’; we may learn more as time goes on.