This spring Defra published a report ‘8 point plan for England’s National Parks’. The report was endorsed by National Parks England, Natural England and Environment Agency. The document sets out their collective ambition to put National Parks ‘at the heart of the way we think about the environment and how we manage it for future generations.’
The 8 point plan sets out laudable ambitions for National Parks of connecting people with nature, improving the rural economy and encouraging visitors to the National Parks. At no point is it recognised that farming underpins the landscape and all the activities suggested in the 8 point plan.
The NFU believes that farming is at the heart of all activity in the National Parks. Without a viable farming industry there would not be the beautiful landscape on which the National Parks are based. Without that managed landscape National Parks would not have the offer that Defra’s plan aims to promote.
In the NFU’s view the plan should recognise that:
- Farming creates and maintains the thriving natural environments supporting the beautiful, semi-natural landscapes of the National Parks.
- Agriculture is the driver of National Parks vibrant rural economy. The plan should acknowledge that a thriving agricultural sector in and around the National Parks is part of a wider agri-food and fuel industry that is both economically and strategically important.
- Farming produces the food the National Parks want to promote.
- Agriculture supports health and well-being providing outdoor recreational opportunities.
- Farming is central to providing the national treasures on which a vibrant rural tourism sector within the National Park is built.
- Farming maintains the ‘world class’ landscapes for international visitors and landscapes everyone recognises as our National Parks.
- Positive house policies so that there are clear rules as how the communities living and maintaining these environments and buildings can continue to do so.
The NFU's full position can be found in the related document below.