Memorandum from the Council for National
The Council for National Parks (CNP) welcomes
the opportunity to respond to the Environmental Audit Committee's
inquiry into the comprehensive spending review. CNP is the national
charity that works to protect and enhance the National Parks of
England and Wales and areas that merit National Park status, and
promote understanding and quiet enjoyment of them for the benefit
National Parks were established by the 1949
National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act. The 1995 Environment
Act created independent National Park Authorities and also revised
National Park purposes to:
promote and enhance the natural beauty,
wildlife and cultural heritage of the National Parks of England
promote opportunities for public
understanding and enjoyment of their special qualities.
Section 62 of the 1995 Environment Act also
placed a duty on public bodies, statutory undertakers and government
departments to have regard to National Park purposes when making
decisions relating to the Parks. CNP hopes that the Environmental
Audit Committee will ensure that all bodies to which the section
62 duty applies will reflect how this duty is being carried out
in relation to their spending allocations. CNP suggests that this
reporting is made mandatory in relevant bodies' annual reports,
as this would be a good place to make links with annual finances.
This year the Minister for the Environment in
England (the Rt Hon Michael Meacher MP) has announced a 7.8 per
cent. increase in National Park grant for the English National
Park Authorities, together with a set-aside sum of some £500,000
giving an overall 10 per cent. increase. This enhanced level of
funding has been set for the full three-year programme together
with an allowance for inflation in years 2 and 3. It is to be
The total budget for the three Welsh National
Parks, which cover 20 per cent. of the land area of Wales in the
current financial year represents just 0.1 per cent. of the total
Welsh budget. In terms of best value, studies have indicated that
National Park funding has achieved a good degree of levering in
other funds. For example, the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park
National Trail survey results demonstrated a return to the Pembrokeshire
economy of £57 for every £1 spent by the National Park
on the trail, in addition to the support of 550 jobs.
Over the years the core resource base of the
three Welsh National Parks has barely kept up with their English
counterparts, although they have the same statutory duties and
responsibilities and have been responsible for providing the same
range of services and indeed often assuming a "larger"
role because of their Welsh context. They also need to comply
with the requirements of the 1993 Welsh Language Act.
CNP believes funding levels for National Parks
in England and Wales ought to be on a consistent basis. This will
be an important test of the Government's commitment to putting
the environment at the heart of its decision and policy making
on the allocation of public spending.
Investment in National Parks not only secures
the best of our landscape and cultural heritage it satisfies national
and international obligations in an increasingly environmentally
An important recommendation of the National
Parks Review Panel was that in order to implement the other recommendations
of the Review Panel National Parks would require an additional
£8-10 million above the projected total annual expenditure.
This would mean current funding for example for Welsh National
Parks of £13.5 million (which would be approximately 0.18
per cent. of the total Welsh budget) when in fact it is only £8.7
million (baseline for 1999-2000).
Adequate core costs are essential if resources
are not to be diverted away from statutory functions relating
to landscape, cultural heritage, biodiversity and public rights
of way and to enable National Park Authorities to match fund other
sources of grant aid. Funds should also be available to support
new projects and initiatives relating to Government priorities,
for example, initiatives arising out of Transporting Wales
into the Future and A New Deal for Transport.
Funding of National Parks is linked to their
ability to deliver their statutory objectives, which is linked
to the Government's objectives for sustainable development. The
Committee may therefore like to consider using this as an indicator
of how far the Government has gone in taking account of sustainable
development in reviewing public expenditure allocations. National
Park Authorities have a very important role to play in linking
healthy environments with the good health of people and rural
communities. This is recognised in Pathway to Prosperity (a
new economic agenda for Wales, Welsh Office 1998) which states
that "the quality of the environment has a profound effect
on the quality of people's lives".
The link between a healthy and attractive environment
and economic prosperity can be seen in many instances in National
Parks. Circular 12/96 emphasises the economic benefits that National
Park designation can bring to local communities, particularly
through visitor spending and local employment. For example, paragraph
22 states "tourism may result in significant benefits in
terms of local purchasing and employment and is also supported
by the National Park Authority through the operations of its visitor
services; areas within the Parks qualify for funding under Objective
5b and the Rural Development Programme; and farmers and landowners
receive assistance from the Park Authorities in their stewardship
of land within the Parks".
Spending by visitors is an important component
of the local economy of National Parks. CNP draws the Committee's
attention to the findings of the report on Visitors to National
Parks (Countryside Commission and Countryside Council for Wales,
1996, CCP 503) on visitor spending. For example, nearly nine out
of 10 visitors (88 per cent.) spent money during their visit to
the Parks, with a daily average expenditure of £9.70 per
person (excluding accommodation costs). For example, the value
of bookings to local communities at St Davids and Newport in the
Pembrokeshire Coast National Park from sales through a bed booking
service is £6,771 and £653 respectively.
This points to the conclusion that National
Parks are not only natural assets that need to be conserved and
enhanced but are also important income generators in the rural
CNP believes it is essential for the Government
to ensure a robust environmental policy framework is adequately
funded. This is especially important in relation to planning,
environment and agriculture. It is of course important not only
for National Park Authorities but also for statutory bodies such
as the Countryside Council for Wales, the Countryside Commission
and the relevant Government departments (planning and environment
divisions of the Welsh office and relevant parts of the National
Assembly for Wales and DETR and MAFF) to be adequately funded.
As well as ensuring that the stewardship of
the high quality environment of Britain continues undiminished,
adequate funding of the environmental policy framework would also
bring economic benefits as highlighted in the economic agenda
Pathway to Prosperity and in Circular 12/96. In its advice
to Government Protecting our Finest Countryside CCP 532
(1998). The Countryside Commission "considers that the necessary
core funding for the management of protected countryside should
be found from the public purse".
The findings of the Protected Areas Funding
Study indicate the need for additional spending on agri-environment
schemes in protected areas, to raise over a period of 10 years
the environmental quality of agricultural land to a standard consistent
with the basis of designation. This is also reported in the Countryside
Commission's advice to Government Protecting our Finest Countryside.
CNP believes that adequate funding of agri-environment schemes
is essential to the fulfilment of National Park purposes. A well-crafted
landscape can only be so it if is adequately funded.
The spending requirements suggested by consultants
as part of the Protected Areas Funding Study was £6.7 million
in the first year to £60 million per year in the 10th year
of a programme for National Parks. This would be in addition to
the £16.3 million currently being spent by MAFF on agri-environment
schemes and the £6.6 million being spent by National Park
Authorities on these activities.
The study also recommends additional spending
of £2.1 million over the next 10 years on a programme to
bring all woodlands in National Parks under sound management.
If agri-environment schemes are poorly funded,
there is a danger that the agri-environment elements of the landscape,
biodiversity, conservation and the historic environment may suffer
as a result. A specific example is that the funding regime for
the all Wales agri-environment scheme Tir Gofal has yet
to be announced. This will be an important demonstration of how
far the Government is going towards taking account of sustainable
land management when reviewing public expenditure allocations.