Economic development ‘overriding’ protection of National Parks, says report

RETURN of Post Office services to Wirksworth.
RETURN of Post Office services to Wirksworth.

Short-term economic priorities are overriding long-established protections and allowing inappropriate development in England’s National Parks, according to a new report by Sheffield Hallam University.

The report, based on research commissioned by Campaign for National Parks, Campaign to Protect Rural England and the National Trust, looked at the national policy to restrict ‘major development’ in National Parks, which has protected these iconic areas since they were created in the 1940s.

The research found that interpretations of ‘major development’ vary between the National Parks, and decisions to approve planning applications often reflect the Government ‘mood’ at the time, with policy changes that lean toward economic growth rather than environmental protection.

The report said this varying approach led to a number of recent major developments being granted permission that threaten the protected areas’ beauty, along with their cultural and environmental significance. Campaign for National Parks, CPRE and the National Trust are calling for a renewed commitment from Government to make sure National Parks are protected against inappropriate, damaging development.

Ruth Bradshaw, policy and research manager at the Campaign for National Parks, said: “It is essential the Government confirms that protecting our National Parks from inappropriate, damaging development remains a national priority. Our National Parks are special because of the beautiful landscapes, wildlife and cultural heritage they contain.”