Special Environmental Sites and Schemes

9. National Parks

In England and Wales there are eleven National Parks. They are the:-

  • Northumberland National Park (1, 031 sq km)
  • Lake District (2, 292 sq km)
  • Snowdonia (2, 171 sq km)
  • North York Moors (1, 432 sq km)
  • Yorkshire Dales (1, 760 sq km)
  • Peak District (1, 404 sq km)
  • Pembrokeshire Coast (583 sq km)
  • Brecon Beacons (1, 344 sq km)
  • Exmoor (686 sq km)
  • Dartmoor (945 sq km)
  • Broads (302 sq km)
  • New Forest (proposed)

Two new designations include the New Forest and the South Downs in England.  In Scotland Loch Lommond and the Trossachs became a National Park in July 2002, the Cairngorms in September 2003. 

National Park designation has been given to some of the most important landscape areas in the UK. The original definition for the National Parks stated that they would be extensive areas of beautiful and relatively wild country, managed for the benefit of the nation to:-

  • preserve the characteristic landscape beauty of the areas;provide access and facilities for public open-air enjoyment;
  • ensure wildlife, buildings and places of architectural and historic interest are protected;
  • and to maintain the established farming systems.

The National Parks Authority is responsible for encouraging farmers and landowners to work with them in order to achieve conservation aims. The Parks Authority also offers a variety of grants and provides manpower for schemes to improve visitor access, tree planting and management of broad-leaved woodland. They are consulted on applications for forestry grants and farm improvement plans which qualify for agricultural grants. They can also negotiate voluntary management agreements to conserve moorland, hay meadows, and other important habitats.

Whilst a proportion of land in the National Parks is owned by public bodies much remains in private hands. Designation has resulted in the imposition of stricter planning controls. However these do not extend to normal agricultural or forestry activities. Controls on these activities come from other legislation such as the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, or from specific designations or schemes. Management plans are drawn up and reviewed on a five year cycle to set out the policies for management of the National Park. The most important elements of this are to preserve the amenity value of the Parks whilst promoting public enjoyment.

In the National Parks planning decisions are taken by the National Park Authority which comprises representatives from the county and district councils within the park.

ADLib logo Content provided by the Agricultural Document Library
© University of Hertfordshire, 2011