England’s national parks to be overseen by new body after leadership criticised in review

England’s national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty are going to be overseen by a new body after a major review criticised the leadership structure.

The organisation has been dubbed a “new national landscapes partnership” and will be announced in the New Year in a shake-up of how England’s most beautiful landscapes are run.

The body will be able to put in bids for Government funding, lead national media and tourism campaigns, and develop strategies to be applied by those that run the parks.

The change in oversight, details of which are revealed for the first time in The Telegraph, will affect England’s 10 national parks and 34 areas of outstanding natural beauty.

It could see new top-down initiatives, such as making changes to counter climate change and improving disability access in the areas affected. A consultation will be launched before details are finalised.

England’s 10 national parks are: Broads, Dartmoor, Exmoor, Lake District, New Forest, Northumberland, North York Moors, Peak District, South Downs and Yorkshire Dales.

The Lake District is one of England's national parks

Credit: PA

The shake-up follows the Landscape Review, which was conducted by Julian Glover, a journalist and former government adviser under David Cameron, and published in 2019.

George Eustice, the Environment Secretary, said: “I’m sure many Telegraph readers will have enjoyed a walk in a national park or AONB during the festive season, and the benefits of being amongst nature have become increasingly apparent.

“The Landscapes Review has given us an opportunity to begin a new chapter for our protected landscapes and really think about the value our National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty have in today’s society.”

Mr Glover’s review was critical in parts at how national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty are overseen and suggested changes to the leadership structure.

He wrote: “Our system of landscape protection today is fragmented, sometimes marginalised and often misunderstood. We believe this leads to duplication, wastes resources and diminishes ambition.”

Mr Glover’s review said that natural landscapes in England were given just £55.4 million from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for 2019/20, calling it “not a big sum” in government terms.

Large leadership structure

He also noted that there were 220 board members across the 10 national parks, making the leadership structure “far too large to be effective”.

Mr Glover proposed a “national landscapes service”, which will give those representing the areas a “bigger voice” and “bigger ambition”.

The “new national landscapes partnership” may go some way to meeting that recommendation, though the full details of how it will work are yet to be announced.

A Government source familiar with the plans said ministers are keen to ensure the new body works alongside the local leadership of such areas, rather than replacing it.

Tony Juniper, the chair of Natural England, said: “As Government’s statutory landscape adviser, we look forward to continuing to work closely with Government, designated landscape bodies and stakeholders to deliver more for and through England’s wonderful and diverse landscapes.”

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