Environment, Food and Rural Affairs CommitteeWritten evidence submitted by the Campaign for National Parks

1. The Campaign for National Parks (CNP) Welcomes

1.1 The aspiration to enable nature’s recovery: especially the commitment to create 200,000ha of priority habitats; and the support for Nature Improvement Areas (NIAs), including £7.5 million to enable NIA partnerships. National Parks have the potential to play a major role in delivering this goal as demonstrated by the Joint Ambition from key protected landscape stakeholders.

1.2 The emphasis on reconnecting people, particularly school children, with nature: Including the support for Local Nature Partnerships; on-going support for schools and disadvantaged communities; and the emphasis on using the Local Sustainable Transport Fund for this purpose.

1.3 The commitment to embed the value of nature (as explained in the NEA) in our economy and the establishment of the independent Natural Capital Committee reporting to the Chancellor. We also look forward to the promised 2012 action plan outlining business opportunities that pay back to nature. We see National Parks as key areas in which to pilot these approaches.

2. CNP Believes the Following Should be Improved

2.1 Clarity on how the views of the Natural Capital Committee will be taken into account in Government’s decision making about the economy—what tangible difference will this make to improving nature on the ground?

2.2 Clarity on how the government’s planning reform agenda will respond to the commitments outlined. The National Planning Policy Framework and Localism Bill must put the real value of nature and the environment at the heart of future planning decisions, thus ensuring that vulnerable wildlife and beautiful landscapes are protected and restored.

2.3 Greater recognition and support for National Parks in terms of the hugely important role that they can play in restoring nature and reconnecting everyone with it.

3. CNP Thinks that Government Should Rectify these Omissions

3.1 A clear funding strategy. Although the funding for NIAs is welcomed, the ambitions in the NEWP are out of step with the resources available to achieve them (Lawton estimated that between £0.6 billion and £1.1 billion was necessary to restore our natural environment). The National Ecosystem Assessment clearly supports the added value to the economy that a high quality environment provides—there is a substantial economic case for targeting Government funding towards areas like National Parks that have huge potential to deliver vital ecosystem services.

3.2 Much stronger and more specific commitment to redistributing CAP funds (especially Pillar 1) towards those farmers who are delivering the greatest environmental public benefits through managing their land. For too long Pillar 1 of the CAP has been used to sustain farming practices and systems that can have adverse impacts on wildlife, landscape and a range of other ecosystem services. This must be addressed.

3.3 Back up the commitments to reconnecting people with nature with more resources and support for disadvantaged communities, which will enable this to happen. CNP has valuable experience of doing this through our Mosaic programme.

20 June 2011

Prepared 16th July 2012