DARTMOOR National Park Authority has criticised the Government for cutting the national park’s funding at a time when it is being asked to widen its ambitions as part of a government review of national parks.
Chair of the authority Pamela Woods said members were disappointed that ‘despite saying national parks are a vital resource for all to enjoy, the Government is cutting our funding and thus making it harder for us to achieve their vision’.
She was speaking as members considered a formal response to the Government consultation on the independent ‘Natural Landscapes’ review of National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, led by Julian Glover and published in 2019. The Government published a response to the review this January.
The authority are concerned that while the Government has recently described national parks as a ‘vital resource’, they are not giving them adequate funds to carry out the proposals in the Glover review, which include improving access for the public to the moor. The discussion at the Dartmoor National Park Authority’s March meeting saw members asked to formally approve their budget for 2022/23.
The budget had been drafted on the basis that the authority would receive a ‘flat cash’ settlement, which has since been confirmed for the next three years by Government department Defra. The Dartmoor authority says that the national park has been impacted by over 13 years of sustained cuts to its core budget, and that if the national park grant had been linked to inflation (Consumer Price Index) over the last ten years, it would now be worth £6.2m.
The authority’s actual grant is £3.8m – which the authority says is ‘a real terms reduction of £2.4m without even considering the impact of increased inflation over the next three years’.
Pamela Woods, chair of the authority said: ‘Since the Landscapes Review was published, the world has changed; the pandemic has demonstrated the importance of connecting people with nature for health and wellbeing benefits and a bright light has been shone on the role protected landscapes play in dealing with the climate and ecological crisis we all face.
‘Dartmoor has just celebrated its 70th anniversary as one of the first national parks to be designated in the UK. It is the beating heart of a nature and habitat recovery network, trialling innovative practices, supporting biodiversity, tackling climate change and making the environment a better place for all who live, work and visit.
‘Members are disappointed that, despite saying national parks are a vital resource for all to enjoy, the Government is cutting our funding and thus making it harder for us to achieve their vision.
‘Staff and the members remain committed to the task of helping to look after Dartmoor National Park and will draw inspiration from the work we do. I have been incredibly proud of the way they have worked throughout the pandemic, welcoming new visitors and dealing with increased pressures.
‘With appropriate resources and powers, we can continue to welcome people to this amazing landscape for years to come, help our communities flourish and ensure we lead the response to the ecological, climate and public health crises.’
The Government consultation on implementing the Glover review closes on April 9 and Dartmoor National Park is encouraging anyone with an interest in nature, protected landscapes and climate action to take part and have their say.
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